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Full text of "Awful disclosures of Maria Monk : as exhibited in a narrative of her sufferings during a residence of five years as a novice, and two years as a black nun, in the Hotel Dieu Nunnery at Montreal"

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"&ome out of hzv, tng peopk. that jt be not 
pnxtakexs of htr ©ino anb that 2* recrioe not of 

htr ulaO,tt*0." — Rer. xviii. 4. 


Made and Printed i* 

Great Britain bv 
Truslow & Bray, Ltd., 
W'.tt Norwood, SE. **?. 



IT is hoped that the reader of the ensuing narrative 
will not suppose that it is a fiction, or that the 
scenes and persons that I have delineated, had not a 
real existence. It is also desired that the author of 
this volume may be regarded not as a voluntary par- 
ticipator in the very guilty transactions which are de- 
scribed ; but receive sympathy for the trials which she 
has endured, and the peculiar situation in which her 
past experience, and escape from the power of the 
Superior of the Hotel Dieu Nunnery, at Montreal, and 
the snares of the Roman Priests in Canada, have left 

My feelings are frequently distressed and agitated 
by the recollection of what I have passed through, and 
by night and day I have little peace of mind, and few 
periods of calm and pleasing recollection. Futurity 
also appears uncertain. I know not what reception 
this little work may meet with, and what will be the 
effect of its publication here or in Canada, among 
strangers, friends, or enemies. I have given the world 
the truth, so far as I have gone, on subjects of which I am 
told they are generally ignorant ; and I feel perfect 
confidence that any facts which may be discovered 
will confirm my words whenever they can be obtained. 
Whoever shall explore the Hotel Dieu Nunnery at 
Montreal, will find unquestionable evidence that the 
descriptions of the interior of that edifice, given in this 
book, were furnished by one familiar with them ; for 
whatever alterations may be attempted, there are 

changes which no mason or carpenter can make and 
effectually conceal ; and therefore there must be plen- 
tiful evidence in that Institution, of the truth of my 

There are living witnesses, also, who ought to be 
made to speak, without fear of penances, tortures, and 
death, and possibly their testimony at some future 
time may be added, to confirm my statements. There 
are witnesses I would greatly rejoice to see at liberty ; 
or rather there were. Are they living now ? or will they 
be permitted to live after the Priests and Superiors 
have seen this book ? Perhaps the wretched nuns in 
the cells have already suffered for my sake — perhaps 
Jane Ray has been silenced for ever, or will be mur- 
dered, before she has time to add her most important 
testimony to mine. 

But speedy death in relation only to this world can 
be no great calamity to those who lead the life of a 
nun. The mere recollection of it always makes me 
miserable. It would distress the reader, should I 
repeat the dreams with which I am often terrified at 
night ; for I sometimes fancy myself pursued by my 
worst enemies ; frequently I seem as if again shut up 
in the Convent ; often I imagine myself present at the 
repetition of the worst scenes that I have hinted at or 
described. Sometimes I stand by the secret place of 
interment in the cellar ; sometimes I think I can hear 
the shrieks of the helpless females in the hands of atro- 
cious men ; and sometimes almost seem actually to look 
again upon the calm and placid features of St. Frances, 
as she appeared when surrounded by her murderers. 

I cannot banish the scenes and character of this book 
from my memory To me it can never appear like an 
amusing fable, or lose its interest and importance. The 
story is one which is continually before me, and must 
return fresh to my mind, with painful emotions, as 
long as I live. With time, and Christian instruction, 
and the sympathy and examples of the wise and good, 

I hope to learn submissively to bear whatever trials 
are appointed me, and to improve under them all. 

Impressed as I continually am with the frightful 
reality of the painful communications that I have made 
in this volume, I can only offer to all persons who may 
doubt or disbelieve my statements, these two things : 

Permit me to go through the Hotel Dieu Nunnery, 
at Montreal, with some impartial ladies and gentlemen, 
that they may compare my account with the inteiior 
parts of the building, into which no persons but the 
Roman Bishop and Priests are ever admitted ; and if 
they do not find my description true, then discard me 
as an impostor. Bring me before a court of justice — 
there I am willing to meet Latargue, Dufresne, Phelan, 
Bonin, and Richards, and their wicked companions, 
with the Superior, and any of the nuns, before a 
thousand men. 




MY parents were both from Scotland, but had 
been resident in Lower Canada some time before 
their marriage, which took place in Montreal, and in 
that city I spent most of my life. I was born at 
St. John's, where they lived for a short time. My 
father was an officer under the British Government, 
and my mother has enjoyed a pension on that 
account ever since his death. 

According to my earliest recollections, he was at- 
tentive to his family, and often repeated to us a pas- 
sage from the Bible which often occurred to me in 
after life. I may probably have been taught by him ; 
but after his death I do not recollect to have received 
any instruction at home, and was not even brought 
up to read the Scriptures ; my mother although nom- 
inally a Protestant , did not pay attention to her 
children. She was inclined to think well of the Cath- 
olics, and often attended their churches. To my 
want of religions instruction at home, and my ig- 
norance of God and my duty, I can trace my in- 
troduction to convents, and the scenes I now describe. 

When about six or seven years of age, I went 
to school to a Mr. Workman, a Protestant, who 


taught In Sacrement reet, and remained several 
months. There I learnt to read and write, and arith- 
metic as far as division. All the progress I ever made 
in those branches was in that school, as I have never 
improved in any of them since. 

A number of girls of my acquaintance went to 
school to the nuns of the Congregational Nunnery, or 
Sisters of Charity. The schools taught by them are 
perhaps more numerous than my readers may ima- 
gine. Nuns are sent out from the convent to many 
of the towns and villages of Canada to teach small 
schools ; and some of them as instructresses in differ- 
ent parts of the United States. When I was ten 
years old, my mother asked me one day if I should 
like to learn to read and write French, and I began 
to think seriously of attending the school in the Con- 
gregational Nunnery. I had already some knowledge 
of that language, sufficient to speak it a little, and my 
mother knew something of it. 

I have a distinct recollection of my entrance into 
the Nunnery ; the day was an important one in my 
life, and on it commenced my acquaintance with a 
convent. I was conducted by some young friends 
along Notre Dame street, till we reached the gate. 
Entering, we walked some distance along the side of 
a building towards a chapel, until we reached a door, 
stopped, and rung a bell. It was opened, and enter- 
ing, we proceeded through a covered passage till we 
took a short turn to the left, and reached the door of 
the school room. On my entrance, the Superior met 
me, and told me that I must dip my fingers into the 
holy water at the door, cross myself and say a short 
prayer ; and this she told me was always required of 
Protestant as well as Catholic children. 

There were about fifty girls in the school, and the 
nuns professed to teach reading, writing arithmetic 
and geography. The methods, however, were very 
imperfect, and little attention was devoted to them, 
the time being engrossed with lessons in needle-work, 
which wan performed with much skill. The nuns had 


no very regular parts assrgned them in the manage* 
ment of the schools. They were rather unpolished 
in their manners, often exclaiming, (that's a He,) 
and "mon Dieu," (my God,) on the most trivial 
occasions. Their writing was poor, and they often 
put a capital letter in the middle of a word. The 
only book of geography which we studied, was a 
catechism of geography, from which we learnt by 
heart a few questions and answers. We were some- 
times referred to a map, but it was only to point 
out Montreal or Quebec, or some other prominent 

It may be necessary to mention, that there are three 
Convents in Montreal, founded on different plans, and 
governed by different rules. Their names are as 
follows : 

i. The Congregational Nunnery. 2. The Black 
Nunnery, or Convent of Sister Bourgeoise. 3. The 
Grey Nunnery. 

The first of these professes to be devoted entirely 
to the education of girls, but with the exception of 
needle-work, hardly anything is taught but prayer 
and catechism; the instruction in reading, writing, 
&c, amounting to very little and often to nothing. 
This Convent is adjacent to the Grey Nunnery, sepa 
rated from it only by a wall. The second professes 
to be a charitable institution for the care of the sick, 
and the supply of bread and medicines to the poor ; 
and something is done in charity, though but little 
compared with the size of the buildings, and the 
number of inmates. 

The Grey Nunnery, situated in a distant part of 
the city, is a large edifice, containing departments 
for the care of insane persons and foundlings. With 
this I have less acquaintance than with the others. I 
have often seen two of the Grey nuns, and know 
their rules; they do not confine them always within 
their walls, like those of the Black-Nunnery. These 
two Convents have their common names (Black and 
Grey) from the color of the dresses worn by the 


unfortunate inmates secluded therr. 

In these three Convents there are certain apart- 
ments into which strangers can gain admittance, but 
others from which they are always excluded. In all, 
large quantities of ornaments are made by the nuns, 
which are exposed for sale in the Ornamental Rooms, 
and afford large pecuniary receipts every year, 
which contribute much to their income. The nuns 
of these Convents are devoted to the charitable 
object appropriated to each, the labor of making diff- 
erent articles known to be manufactured by them, 
and the religious observances, which occupy much of 
their time. They are regarded with much respect 
by the people at large ; and when a novice takes the 
veil, she is supposed to retire from the temptations 
and troubles of this world into a state of holy seclu- 
sion, where, by prayer, self-mortification and good 
deeds, she prepares herself for heaven. Sometimes 
the Superior of a Convent obtains the character of 
working miracles : and when she dies crowds throng 
the Convent, who think indulgences are to be derived 
from bits of her clothes and other things she has 
possessed ; and many have sent articles to be touch- 
ed by her bed or chair, in which virtue is thought to 
remain. I used to participate in such ideas, and looked 
upon a nun as the happiest of women, and a Convent 
as the most holy, and delightful abode. Pains were 
taken to impress such views upon me. Some of the 
priests of the Seminary often visited the congrega- 
tional Nunnery, and catechised and talked on religion. 
The Superior of the Black Nunnery also came into 
the school, and enlarged on the advantage we enjoy- 
ed in having such teachers, and dropped something 
now and then relating to her own convent, calculated 
to make us entertain the highest ideas of it, and 
make us sometimes think of the possibility of getting 
into it. 

Among the instructions given us by the priests, 
some of the most pointed were directed against the 
Protestant Bible. They often enlarged upon the evil 


tendency of that book, and told us that but for it 
many a soul condemned to hell, and suffering eternal 
punishment might have been in happiness. They 
would not say anything in its favour; for that would 
be speaking against religion and against God. They 
warned us against its woe, and represented it as a 
thing very dangerous to our souls. In confirmation 
of this they would repeat some of the answers taught 
us at catechism; a few of which I will here give. 
We had little catechisms, put in our hands to study ; 
but the priests soon began to teach us a new set of 
answers, which were not to be found in our books 
from some of which I received new ideas, and got, as 
I thought, important light on religious subjects, which 
confirmed me more in my belief in the Roman Catho- 
lic doctrines. Those questions and answers I can 
still recall with tolerable accuracy, and some of them 
I will add here. I never have read them as we were 
taught them only by word of mouth. 

"Question. Why did not God make all the com- 
mandments?" — " Response. Because man is not 
strong enough to keep them." 

And another; "Q. Porquoi l'homme ne lit pas 
l'Evangile?" — "R. Parce que l'esprit de l'homme 
est trop borne et trop faible pour comprendre qu'est 
ceque Dieu a ecrit." 

' Q. Why are men not to read the New Testa- 
ment?" — " R. Because the mind of man is too limit- 
ed and weak to understand what God has written." 

These questions and answers are not to be found in 
the catechisms in use in Montreal and other places 
where I have been, but all the children in the Congre- 
gational Nunnery were taught them, and many more 
not found in these books. 




THERE was a girl thirteen years old whom I knew 
in the School, who resided in the neighbourhood 
of my mother, and with whom I had been familiar. 
She told me one day at school, of the conduct of a 

?riest w ith her at confession, at which I was astonished, 
t was of so criminal and shameful a nature, I could 
hardly believe it, and yet I had so much confidence 
that she spoke the truth, that I could not discredit it. 

She was partly persuaded by the priest to believe 
he could not sin, because he was a priest, and that 
anything he did to her would sanctify her ; and yet 
she seemed somewhat doubtful how she should act. 
A priest, she had been told by him, it a holy man, and 
appointed to a holy office, and therefore what would 
be wicked in other men, could not be so in him. She 
told me she had informed her mother of it, who ex- 
pressed no anger or disapprobation: but only enjoined 
it upon her not to speak of it ; and remarked to her 
as priests were not like men, but holy and sent to in- 
struct, and save us, whatever they did was right. 

I afterwards confessed to the priest that I had heard 
the story and had a penance to perform for indulging 
a sinful curiosity in making inquiries; and the girl had 
another for communicating it. I afterwards learned 
that other children had been treated in the same 
manner, and also of similar proceedings. 

Indeed it was not long before such language was 
osed to mc, and I well remember how my views of 
right and wrong were shaken by it 

Another girl at the school, from a place above 
Montreal, called the Lac, told me the following story 


of what had occurred recently in that vicinity. A 
young squaw, called La Belle Marie, (pretty Mary.) 
had been seen going to confession at the house of 
the priest, who lived a little distance out of the village. 
La Belle Marie was afterwards missed, and her mur- 
dered body was found in the river. A knife was also 
found bearing the priest's name. Great indignation 
was excited among the Indians, and the priest im- 
mediately absconded, and was never heard of again. 
A note was found on his table addressed to him, tel- 
ling him to fly, if he was guilty. 

It was supposed that the priest was fearful that his 
conduct might be betrayed by this young female ; and 
he undertook to clear himself by killing her. 

These stories struck me with surprise at first, but I 
gradually began to feel differently, even supposing 
them true, and to look upon the priests as men incap- 
able of sin; besides, when I first went to confession, 
which I did to Father Richards in the old French 
church, since then taken down, I heard nothing im- 
proper; and it was not until I had been several times 
that the priests became more and more bold, and 
were at length indecent in their questions, and even 
in their conduct when I confessed to them in the 
Sacristie. This subject, I believe, is not understood 
nor suspected among Protestants; and it is not my 
intention to speak of it very particularly, because it 
is impossible to do so without saying things both 
shameful and demoralizing. 

I will only say here, that when quite a child, I heard 
from the mouths of the priests at confession, what I 
cannot repeat, with treatment corresponding; and 
several families in Canada have assured me that they 
have repeatedly, and indeed regularly, been required 
to answer the same and other like questions, many 
of which present to the mind deeds which the most 
iniquitous and corrupt heart could hardly invent. 

There was a frequent change of teachers in the 
school of the Nunnery, and no regular system was 


pursued In our instruction. There were many nuns 
who came and went while I was there, being frequent- 
ly called in and out without any perceptible reason. 
They supply school teachers to many of the country 
towns, usually two to each of the towns with which I 
was acquainted, besides sending Sisters of Charity to 
many parts of the United States. Among those 
whom I saw most was Saint Patrick, an old woman 
for a nun, that is about forty, very ignorant and gross 
in her manners, with quite a beard on her face, and 
very cross and disagreeable. She was sometimes our 
teacher in sewing, and was appointed to keep order 
among us. We were allowed to enter only a few of 
the rooms in the Congregational Nunnery, although 
it was not considered one of the secluded Convents. 

In the Black Nunnery, which is very near the Con- 
gregational, is an hospital for sick people from the 
city ; and sometimes some of our boarders, such as 
were indisposed, were sent there to be cured. I was 
once taken ill, and sent there for a few days. 

There were beds enough for a number more. A 
physician attended it, and a number of the veiled 
nuns of that Convent spent most of their time there. 

These would also sometimes read lectures and re- 
peat prayers to us. 

After I had been in the Congregational Nunnery 
two years, I left it, and attended several schools a 
short time. But I soon became dissatisfied, having 
many severe trials to endure at home, which my 
feelings will not allow me to describe; and as my 
Catholic acquaintances had often spoken to me in 
favour of their faith, I was inclined to believe it al- 
though I knew little of any religion. If I had known 
anything of true religion I believe I should never 
have thought of being a nno. 




AT length I determined to become a Black Nun, 
and called upon one of the oldest priests in the 
Seminary, to whom I made known my intention. 

The old priest was Father Rocque. He is still alive. 
He was at that time the oldest priest in the Seminary, 
and carried the (Bon Dieu,) Good God, as the Sacra- 
mental wafer is called. When going to administer it 
in any country place, he used to ride with a man be- 
fore him, who rang a bell as a signal. When the Can- 
adians heard it, whose habitations he passed, they 
would prostrate themselves to the earth, worshipping 
it (the wafer) as God. He was a man of great age, 
and wore large curls, so that he somewhat resembled 
his predecessor, Father Roue. He was at that time 
at the head of the Seminary. This institution is a 
large edifice, situated near the Congregational and 
Black Nunneries, being on the east side of Notre 
Dame street. It is the rendezvous and centre of all 
the priests in the district of Montreal, and supplies 
all the country as far down as Three Rivers, which 
place, is under the charge of the Seminary of Quebec, 
About one hundred and fifty priests are connected 
with that at Montreal, as every small place has one 
priest, and larger ones have two. 

Father Rocque promised to converse with the 
Superior of the Convent, and proposed my calling 
again in two weeks, at which time I visited the Semi- 
nary again, and was introduced to the Superior of 
the Black Nunnery. She told me she must make 
inquiries, before she could give me a decided answer, 
and proposed to me to take up my abode a few days 


at the house of a French fa.nily in St. Lawrence sub- 
urbs. Here I remained a fortnight; during which 
time I formed acquaintance with the family, particu- 
larly with the mistress of the house, who was a devot- 
ed Papist, and had a high respect for the Superior. 

On Saturday morning I called, and was admitted 
into the Black Nunnery as a novice, much to my 
satisfaction, for I had a high idea of life in a convent, 
secluded as I supposed the inmates to be, from the 
world and all its evil influences, and assured of ever- 
lasting happiness in heaven. The Superior received 
me and conducted me into a large room, where the 
novices, who are called in French, Postulantes, were 
assembled, and engaged in the occupation of sewing. 

Here were about forty of them, and they were in 
groups in different parts of the room, near the win- 
dows : but in each group was one of the veiled nuns 
of the convent, whose abode was in the interior apart- 
ments, to which no novice was admitted. As we en- 
tered, the Superior informed them that a new novice 
had come, and desired any present who might have 
known me in the world to signify it. 

Two Miss Feugnees, and a Miss Howard from 
Vermont, who had been my fellow-pupils in the Con- 
gregational Nunnery, immediately recognized me. 
I was then placed in one of the groups at a distance 
from them, and furnished by a nun, called Sainte 
Clotilde, with materials to make a purse, such as 
priests used to carry the consecrated wafer in, when 
they administer the sacrament to the sick. I well 
remember my feelings at that time, sitting among a 
number of strangers, and expecting with painful an- 
xiety the arrival of the dinner-hour. Then, as I knew, 
ceremonies were to be performed, for which I was but 
ill prepared, as I had not yet heard the rules by 
which I was to be governed, and knew nothing of 
the forms to be repeated in the daily exercises, ex- 
cept the creed in Latin. This was dnring the time 
of recreation, as it is called The only recreation 
there allowed, is that of the «nind, and of thf« bw* 

\y maria wmm. 

little. We were kept at work, and permitted to speak 
with each other only in the hearing of the old nuns. 
We proceeded to dinner in couples, and ate in si- 
lence while a lecture was read. 

The novices had access to only eight of the apart- 
ments; and whatever else we wished to know, we 
could only conjecture. The sleeping room was in 
the second story, at the end of the western wing. 
The beds were placed in rows without curtains or 
anything else, to obstruct the view ; and in one corner 
was a small room partitioned off, in which was the 
bed of the night-watch, that is, the old nun appointed 
to oversee us for the night. In each side of the par- 
tition were two holes, through which she could look 
upon us when she pleased. Her bed was a little 
raised above the others. There was a lamp hung in 
the middle of our chamber, which showed every- 
thing to her distinctly ; and as she had no light in 
her room, we never could perceive whether she was 
awake or asleep. As we knew that the slightest 
deviation from the rules would expose us to her 
observation and that of our companions, in whom it 
was a virtue to betray one another's faults, as well 
as to confess our own, I felt myself under a con- 
tinual exposure to suffer what I disliked, and had 
my mind occupied in thinking of what I was to do 
next, and what I must avoid. 

I soon learned the rules and ceremonies we had to 
pass, which were many, and we had to be particular 
in their observance, we were employed in different 
kinds of work while I was a novice. The most beau- 
tiful specimen of the nun's manufacture which I saw, 
was a rich carpet made of fine worsted, which had 
been begun before my acquaintance v.ith the Con- 
vent, and was finished while 1 was there. This was 
sent as a present to the King of England, as an ex- 
pression of gratitude for the money annually receiv- 
ed from the government It was about forty yards 
in length, and very handsome. The Convent of the 
Grey nuns has also received funds from the govern- 


merit, though on some account or other, they had 
not for several years. 

I was sitting by a window at one time with a girl 
named Jane M'Coy, when one of the old nuns came 
up and spoke to us in tones of liveliness and kindness, 
which seemed strange in a place where everything 
appeared so cold and reserved. Some remarks which 
she made were intended to cheer and encourage me, 
and made me think she felt some interest in me. I 
do not recollect what she said, but I remember it gave 
me great pleasure. I also remember that her man- 
ners struck me singularly. She was rather old for a 
nun, probably thirty; her figure large, her face 
wrinkled, and her dress careless. She seemed also 
to be under less restraint than the others, and this I 
afterwards found was the case. She sometimes even 
set the rules at defiance. She would speak aloud 
when silence was required, and sometimes walk about 
when she ought to have kept her place; she would 
even say and do things to make us laugh, and, 
although often blamed for her conduct, had her 
offences frequently passed over, when others would 
have been punished with penances. 

I learnt that this woman had always been singular. 
She never would consent to take a saint's name on 
receiving the veil, and had always been known by 
her own, which was Jane Ray. Her irregularities 
were found to be numerous, aud penances were of 
so little use in governing her, that she was pitied by 
some, who thought her partially insane. She was 
commonly spoken of as mad Jane Ray; and when 
she committed a fault, it was often apologized for by 
the Superior or other nuns, on the ground that she 
did not know what she did. 

The occupations of a novice intbe Black Nunnery 
are not such as some may suppose. They are not 
employed in studying the higher branches of educa- 
tion, nor offered any advantages for storing their 
minds, or polishing their manners; they are not 
taught even reading, writing, or arithmetic; much 


less any of the more advanced branches of knowV 
edge. My time was chiefly employed, at first, in 
work and prayers. It is true, during the last year I 
studied a great deal, and was required to work but 
very little ; but it was the study of prayers in French 
and Latin, which I had merely to commit to memory, 
to prepare for the easy repetition of them on my re 
ception, and after I should be admitted as a nun. 

Among the wonderful events which had happened, 
that of the sudden conversion of a gay young lady 
of the city into a nun, appeared to me one of the 
most remarkable. The story which I first heard- 
while a novice, made a deep impression upon my 
mind. It was nearly as follows: 

The daughter of a wealthy citizen of Montreal 
was passing the Church of Bon Secours one evening, 
on her way to a ball, when she was suddenly thrown 
down upon the steps or near the door, and received 
a severe shock. She was taken up, and removed 
first, I think, into the church, but soon into the Black 
Nunnery, which she soon determined to join as a nun ; 
instead, however, of being required to pass through 
a long novitiate, (which usually occupies about two 
years and a half, and is abridged only where the 
character is peculiarly exemplary and devout,) she 
was permitted to take the veil without delay, being 
declared by God to a priest to be in a state of sanc- 
tity. The meaning of this expression is that she was 
a real saint, and already in a great measure raised 
above the world and its influences, and incapable of 
sinning; possessing the power of intercession, and a 
proper object to be addressed in prayer. This re- 
markable individual, I was further informed, was still 
in the Convent, though I never was allowed to see 
her; she did not mingle with the other nuns, either at 
work, worship or meals ; for she had no need of food, 
and not only her soul, but her body, was in heaven 
a great part of her time. What added, if possible, to 
the reverence and mysterious awe with which I 
thought of her, was the fact I learned, that she hid 


no name. The titles used in speaking of her were, 
the holy saint, reverend mother, or saint bon pasteur, 
(the holy good shepherd.) 

It is wonderful that we could have carried our re- 
verence for the Superior so far as we did, although it 
was the direct tendency of many instructions and 
regulations, indeed of the whole system, to permit, 
even to foster, a superstitious regard for her. One of 
us was occasionally called into her room to cut her 
nails, or dress her hair; and we would often collect 
the clippings, and distribute them to each other, or 
preserve them with the utmost care. I once picked 
up all the stray hairs I could find after combing her 
head, bound them together, and kept them until she 
told me I was not worthy to possess things so sacred. 
Jane M'Coy and I were once sent to alter a dress for 
the Superior. I gathered up all the bits of thread, 
made a little bag, and put them into it for safe pre- 
servation. This I wore a long time around my neck, 
so long, that I wore out a number of strings, which 
I had replaced with new ones. I believed it to pos- 
sess the power of removing pain, and often prayed 
to it to cure the toothache, &c. Jane Ray some- 
times porfessed to outgo us all in devotion to the Su- 
perior, and would pick up the feathers after making 
her bed. These she would distribute among us, 
saying, "when she dies, relics will begin to grow 
scarce, and you had better supply yourselves in sea- 
son." Then she would treat the whole matter in 
some way to turn it into ridicule. Equally contra- 
dictory would she appear, when occasionally she 
would obtain leave from her Superior to tell her 
dream. With a serious face, which sometimes im- 
posed upon all of us, and made us half believe she 
was in a perfect state of sanctity, she would narrate 
in French some unaccountable vision which she said 
she had enjoyed; then turning round, would say 
"There are some who do not understand me; you al 
ought to be informed." And then she would say 1 
•omething totally different in English, which put us 


to the greatest agony for fear of laughing. Some- 
times she would say she expected to be Superior 
herself one of those days. 

While I was in the Congregational Nunnery, I had 
gone to the parish church, to confess, for although 
the nuns had a private confession-room in the build- 
ing, the boarders were taken in parties through the 
street, by some of the nuns, to confess in the church ; 
but in the Black Nunnery, as we had a chapel, and 
priests attending in the confessionals, we never left 
the building. 

Our confessions there as novices were always per- 
formed in one way. Those of us who were to con- 
fess at a particular time, took our places on our 
knees near the confession-box, and after having re- 
peated a number of prayers, etc., prescribed in our 
book, came up one at a time and kneeled beside a 
fine wooden lattice work, which entirely separated 
the confessor from us, yet permitted us to place our 
faces almost to his ear, and nearly concealed his 
countenance from our view. I recollect how the 
priests used to recline their heads on one side, and 
often cover their faces with their handkerchiefs, 
while they heard me confess my sins, and put quest- 
ions to me, which were often of the most improper 
and revolting nature, naming crimes both unthought 
of and inhuman. Still, strange as it may seem, I 
was persuaded to believe that all this was their duty, 
or that it was done without sin. 

Veiled nuns would often appear in the chapel at 
confession ; though, as I understood, they generally 
confessed in private. Of the plan of their confession- 
rooms I had no information; but I supposed the 
ceremony to be conducted much on the same plan 
as in the chapel viz., with a lattice interposed between 
the confessor and the confessing. 

Punishments were sometimes resorted to while I 
was a novice, though but seldom. The first time I 
ever saw a gag, was one day when a young novice 
had done somethings to offend the Superior. This 


girl I always had compassion for, because §he was 
very young, and an orphan. The Superior sent for 
a gag, and expressed her regret at being compelled, 
by the bad conduct of the child, to proceed to such 
a punishment ; after which she put it into her mouth, 
so far as to keep it open, and then let it remain some 
time before she took it out. There was a leathern 
strap fastened to each end, and buckled to the back 
part of the head. 




AFTER I had been a novice four or five years 
from the time I commenced school in the 
Convent, one day I was treated by one of the nuns 
in a manner which displeased me, and because I 
expressed some resentment, I was required to beg 
her pardon. Not being satisfied with this, although 
I complied with the command, nor with the coldness 
with which the Superior treated me, I determined to 
quit the Convent at once, which I did without ask- 
ing leave. There would have been no obstacle to my 
departure, novice as I then was, if I had asked per- 
mission ; but I was too much displeased to wait for 
that, and went home without speaking to any one. 

I soon after visited the town of St. Denis where 
I saw two young ladies with whom I had been for- 
merly acquainted in Montreal, and one of them a 
school-mate at Mr. Workman's School. After some 
conversation with me, and learning that I had known 
a lady who kept a school in the place, they advised 
me to apply to her to be imployed as her assistant 
teacher ; for she was then instructing the government 
school in that place. 

I visited her, and found her willing, and I engaged 
at once as her assistant. 

The government society paid her £20 a year : she 
was obliged to teach ten children gratuitously; might 
have fifteen pence a month, for each ten scholars 
more, and then she was at liberty, according to tile 


regulations, to demand as much as she pleased for 
the other pupils. The course of instruction required 
by the society embraced only reading, writing and 
what was called ciphering. The books used were a 
spelling book, 1' Instruction de la Jeunesse, the 
datholic New Testament, and 1' Histoire de Canada. 
When these had been read through, in regular suc- 
cession, the children were dismissed as having com- 
pleted their education. No difficulty is found in 
making the common French Canadians content with 
such an amount of instruction as this ; on the con- 
trary, it is often found very hard indeed to prevail 
upon them to send their children at all, for they say 
it takes too much of the love of God from them to 
send them to school. The teacher strictly complied 
with the requisition of the society, and the Roman 
Catholic catechism was regularly taught in the school, 
as much from choice, as from submission to authority, 
as she was a strict Catholic. I had brought with me 
the little bag in which I had so long kept the clipp- 
ings of the thread left after making a dress for the 
Superior. Such was my regard for it, that I contin- 
ued to wear it constantly around my neck, and to feel 
the same reverence for it as before. I occasionally 
had the tooth-ache during my stay at St. Denis, 
and then always relied on the influence of my little 
bag. On such occasions I would say — " By the virtue 
of this bag may I be delivered from the tooth-ache 1" 
and I supposed that when it ceased it was owing to 
that cause. 

While engaged in this manner I became acquainted 
with a man who soon proposed marriage; and young 
and ignorant of the world as I was, I heard his offers 
with favour. On consulting with my friend, she ex- 
pressed a friendly interest for me, advised me against 
taking such a step, and especially as 1 knew so little 
about the man, except that a report was circulated 
unfavourable to his character. Unfortunately, I was 
not wise enough to listen to her advice, and hastily 
married. In a few weeks I had occasion to repent 


of the step I had taken, as the report proved tns« 
which I thought justified, and indeed required, out 
separation. After I had been in St. Denis about 
three months, finding myself thus situated, and not 
knowing what else to do, I determined to return to 
the Convent, and pursue my former intention of 
becoming a Black Nun, could I gain admittance. 
Knowing the inquiries the Superior would make 
relative to me during my absence, before leaving St. 
Denis I agreed with the lady with whom I had been 
associated (when she went to Montreal, which she 
did very frequently) to say to the Lady Superior I 
had been under her protection during my absence, 
which would stop further inquiry ; as I was sensible, 
should they know I had been married I should not 
be admitted. 

I soon returned to Montreal, and, on reaching the 
city, I visited the Seminary, and in another interview 
with the Superior communicated my wish, and de- 
sired her to procure my re-admission as a novice. 

After leaving for a short time, she returned and 
told me that the Superior of the Convent had con- 
sented, and I was introduced to her. She blamed 
me for leaving the Nunnery, but told me that I 
ought to be ever grateful to my guardian angel for 
taking care of me, and bringing me in safety back. 
1 requested that I might be secured against the re- 
proaches and ridicule of all the novices and nuns, 
which I thought some might cast upon me, unless 
prohibited by the Superior; and this she promised 
me. The money usually required for the admission 
of novices had not been expected from me. I had 
been admitted the first time without any such re- 
quisition; but now I chose to pay for my re- admis- 
sion. I knew that she was able to dispense with such 
a demand, and she knew that I was not in possession 
of anything like the sum required. 

But I was bent on paying to the Nunnery, and 
accustomed to receive the doctrine often repeated to 
cae before that time, that when the advantage of 


the church was consulted, the steps taken were justi- 
fiable, let them be what they would; I therefore 
resolved to obtain money on false pretenses, confi- 
dent that if all were known, I should be far from 
displeasing the Superior. I went to the brigade- 
major, and asked him to give me the money payable 
to my mother from her pension, which amounted to 
about thirty dollars, and without questioning my au- 
thority to receive it in her name, he gave it to me. 

From several of her friends I obtained small sums 
under the name of loans, so that altogether I had 
soon raised a number of pounds, with which I has- 
tened to the Nunnery, and deposited a part in the 
hands of the Superior. She received the money 
with evident satisfaction, though she must have 
known that I could not have obtained it honestly ; 
and I was at once re-admitted as a novice. 

Much to my gratification, not a word fell from the 
lips of my old associates in relation to my uncere- 
monious departure, nor my voluntary return. The 
Superior's orders, I had not a doubt, had been ex- 
plicitly laid down, and they certainly were carefully 
obeyed, for I never heard an allusion made to that 
subject during my subsequent stay in the Convent, 
except that, when alone, the Superior would some- 
times say a little about it. 

There were numbers of young ladies who entered 
awhile as novices, and became weary or disgusted 
with some things they observed, and remained but 
a short time. One of my cousins, who lived at 
Lachine, named Reed spent about a fortnight in the 
Convent with me. She however, conceived such 
an antipathy to the priests, that she used expressions 
which offended the Superior. 

The first day that she attended mass, while at 
dinner with us in full community, she said before us 
all, " What a rascal that priest was, to preach against 
his best friend 1" 

All stared at such an unusual exclamation, an* 
some one enquired what she meant. 


H I say, " she continued, " he has been preaching 
against Him who has given him his bread. Do you 
suppose that if thete wete no devil, there would be 
any priests?" 

This bold young novice was immediately dismissed 
and in the afternoon we had a long sermon from the 
Superior on the subject. 

It happened that I one day got a leaf of an Eng- 
lish Bible which had been brought into the Convent, 
wrapped around some sewing silk, purchased at a 
store in the city. For some reason or other 1 deter- 
mined to commit to memory a chapter it contained, 
which I soon did. It is the only chapter I ever learnt 
in the Bible, and I can now repeat it. It is the sec- 
ond of St. Matthew's gospel. " Now when Jesus 
was born in Bethlehem of Judea," &c. It happened 
that I was observed reading the paper, and when 
the nature of it was discovered, I was condemned to 
do penance for my offence. 

Great dislike to the Bible was shown by those who 
conversed with me about it, and several have re- 
marked to me that if it were not for that Book, 
Catholics would never be led to renounce their own 

I have heard passages read from the Evangile, re- 
lating to the death of Christ ; the conversion of Paul; 
a few chapters from St. Matthew, and perhaps a few 
others. The priests would also sometimes take a 
verse or two, and preach from it. I have read St. 
Peter's life, but only in the book called the " Lives 
of the Saints," He, I understood, has the keys of 
heaven and hell, and has founded our Church. As 
for Saint Paul, I remember, as I was taught to under 
stand it, that he was once a great persecutor of the 
Roman Catholics, until he became convicted, and 
confessed to one of the father confessors, I don't 
know which. For who can expect to be forgiven, 
who does not become a catholic, and confess. 



THE day on which I received Confirmation rw 
a distressing one to me. I believed the doc- 
trine of the Roman Catholics, and according to them 
I was guilty of three mortal sins ; concealing some- 
thing at confession, sacrilege, in putting the body 
of Christ in the sacrament under ray feet, and by 
receiving it while not in a state of grace! And now I 
had been led into all those sins in consequence of my 
marriage, which I never had acknowledged, as it 
would cut me off from being admitted as a nun. 
On the day when I went to the Church to be con- 
firmed with a number of others, I suffered extremely 
from the reproaches of my conscience. I believed, 
as I had been told, that a person who had been 
anointed with the holy oil of confirmation on the 
forehead, and dying in the state in which I was, 
would go down to hell, and, in the place where the 
oil had been rubbed, the names of my sins would 
blaze out of my forehead ; these would be a sign by 
which the devils would know me, and would torment 
me the worse for them. I was thinking of all this, 
while I was sitting in the pew, waiting to receive the 
oil. I felt however some consolation, when my sins 
came to my mind; which I derived from another 
doctrine of the church, viz., that a bishop could ab- 
solve me from all sins any minute before my death ; 
and I intended to confess them all before leaving the 


At length the moment for administering the " sac- 
rament " arrived, and a bell was rung. Those who 
had come to be confirmed had brought tickets from 
their confessors, which were thrown into a hat, and 
carried around by a priest, who in turn handed each 
to a bishop, by which he learned our names and ap- 
plied a little of the oil to the foreheads. This was 
immediately rubbed off by a priest with a bit of 
cloth quite roughly. 

I went home with some qualms of conscience, and 
often thought with dread of the following tale 
which I have heard told, to illustrate the sinfulness 
of conduct like mine. 

A priest was once travelling, when he was passing 
by a house, his horse fell on its knees, and would 
not rise. His rider dismounted and went in to learn 
the cause of so extraordinary an occurrence. He 
found there a woman near death, to whom a priest 
was trying to administer the sacrament, but without 
success; for every time she attempted to swallow it 
it was thrown back out of her mouth into the chalice. 
He perceived it was owing to unconfessed sin, and 
took away the holy water from her; on which his 
horse rose from its knees, and he pursued his 

I also had been told, that we shall have as many 
devils biting us, if we go to hell, as we have un- 
confessed sins on our consciences. 

I was required to devote myself for a year, to 
the study of the prayers and practice the ceremon- 
ies necessary on the reception of a nun. This I 
found a very tedious duty ; but as I was released 
from the daily labours usually demanded of novices 
I felt little disposition to complain, 



I WAS introduced into the Superior's room on 
the evening preceeding the day on which I was 
to take the veil, to have an interview with the Bis- 
hop. The Superior was present, and the interview 
lasted half an hour. The Bishop on this as on 
other occasions appeared to be habitually rough in 
his manners. His address was by no means pre- 

Before I took the veil, I was ornamented for the 
ceremony, and was clothed in a dress belonging 
to the Convent, which was used on such occasions; 
and placed near the altar in the Chapel, in the 
view of a number of spectators, who had assem- 
bled. Taking the veil is an affair which occurs so 
frequently in Montreal, that it has long ceased to be 
regarded as a novelty; and although notice had 
been given in the French parish Church as usual, 
only a small audience assembled. Being well pre- 
pared with a long training, and frequent rehearsals, 
I stood waiting in my large flowing dress for the 
appearance of the Bishop. He soon presented him- 
self, entering by a door behind the altar: I then 
threw myself at his feet, and asked him to confer 
upon me the veil. He expressed his consent; and 
then turning to the Superior, I threw myself pros- 
trate at her feet, according to my instructions, re 
peating what I have before done at rehearsals, and 
made a movement as if to kiss her feet. This she 
prevented, or appeared to prevent, catching me by 
a sudden motion of her hand, and granted my re 
r»uest. I then kneeled before the Holy Sacrament 


that is a large round wafer held by the Bishop be- 
tween his forefinger and thumb, and made my 

This wafer I had been taught to regard with the 
utmost veneration, as the real body of Jesus Christ, 
the presence of which made the vows uttered be- 
fore it binding in the most solemn manner. 

After taking the vows, I proceeded to a small 
apartment behind the altar, accompanied by four 
nuns, where there was a coffin prepared with my 
nun's name engraved upon it: — 


My companions lifted it by four handles attached 
to it, while I threw off my dress, and put on that of 
a nun of Soeur Bourgeoise; and then we all returned 
to the chapel. I proceeded first, and was followed 
by the four nuns, the Bishop naming a number of 
worldly pleasures in rapid succession, in reply to 
which I as rapidly repeated: — 

Je renounce, Je renounce, Je renounce. 

The coffin was then placed in front of the altar 
and I advanced to place myself in it. This coffin 
was to be deposited, after the ceremony, in an out- 
house, to be preserved until my death, when it was 
to receive my corpse. There were reflections which 
I naturally made at that time, but I stepped in, ex- 
tended myself, and laid still. A pillow had been 
placed at the head of thfc coffin, to support my head 
in a comfortable position. A thick black cloth was 
then spread over me, and the chanting of Latin 
hymns commenced. My thoughts were net the 
most pleasing during the time I lay in that situa- 
tion. The pall, or Drape Mortel, as the cloth is 
called, had a strong smell of incense, which was 
always disagreeable to me, and then proved al- 
most suffocating. I recollected the story of the 
novice, who, in taking the veil, lay down in her 
coffin like me, and was covered in the same man 


ner, but on the removal of the covering was found 

When I was uncovered, I rose, stepped out of 
my coffin, and kneeled. Other ceremonies then fol- 
lowed, of no interest ; after which the music com- 
menced, and here the whole was finished. 

I then returned to the Superior's room, followed 
by the other nuns, who walked two by two, with 
their hands folded on their breasts, and their eyes 
cast down upon the floor. The nun who was to 
be my companion in future, then walked at the 
end of the procession. On reaching the Superior's 
door they all left me, and I entered alone, and 
found her with the Bishop and two prests. 

The Superior now informed me, that having 
taken the black veil, it only remained that I should 
swear the three oaths customary on becoming a 
nun ; and that some explanation would be neces- 
sary from her. I was now to have access to eve- 
ry part of the edifice, even to the cellar, where 
two of the sisters were imprisoned for causes 
which she did not mention. I must be informed 
that one ©f my great duties was to obey the priests 
in all things ; and this I soon learnt, to my aston- 
ishment and horror, was to live in the practice of 
criminal intercourse with them. I expressed some 
of the feelings which this announcement excited in 
me, which came upon me like a flash of lightning ; 
but the only effect was to set her arguing with me, 
in favour of the crime, representing it as a virtue 
acceptable to God' and honorable to me. The priests, 
she said, were not situated like other men, being 
forbidden to marry; while they lived secluded, la- 
borious, and self-denying lives for our salvation. 
They might, indeed, be considered our saviours, 
as without their service we could not obtain par- 
don of sin, and must go to hell. Now it was our 
solemn duty, on withdrawing from t he world to 
consecrate our lives to religion, to practice every 
species of self-denial We could not be too humble, 


nor mortify our feelings too far; this uras to be 
done by opposing them, and acting contrary to 
them ; and what she proposed was, therefore, pleas- 
ing in the sight of God. I now felt how foolish I 
had been to place myself in their power. 

From what she said, I could draw no other con- 
clusions but that I was required to act like the 
most abandoned of beings, and that my future as- 
sociates were habitually guilty of the most heinous 
and detestable crimes, When I repeated my ex- 
pressions of surprise and horror, she told me that 
such feelings were very common at first, and that 
many other nuns had expressed themselves as I 
did, who had long since changed their minds. 
She even said, on her entrance into the nunnery, 
she had felt like me. 

Doubts, she declared, were among our greatest 
enemies. They would lead us to question every 
point of duty, and induce us to waver at every 
step. They arose only from remaining imperfection, 
and were always evidences of sin. Our only way 
was to dismiss them immediately, repent and con- 
fess them. They were deadly sins, and would con- 
dem us to hell, if we should die without confessing 
them. Priests, she insisted, could not sin. It was 
a thing impossible. Every thing that they did, 
and wished was right. She hoped I would see 
the reasonableness and duty of the oaths I was 
then about to take, and be faithful to them. 

She gave me other information, which excited 
feelings in me, scarcely less dreadful. Infants were 
sometimes born in the Convent, but they were al- 
ways baptised, and immediately strangled ! This 
secured their everlasting happiness ; for the baptism 
purifies them from all sinfulness, and being sent 
out of the world before they had time to do any- 
thing wrong, they were at once admitted into hea- 
ven. How happy she exclaimed, are those who se- 
cure immortal happiness to such little beings 1 Their 


little souls would thank those who kill their bodies, 
if they had it in their power. 

Into what a place, and among what society, had I 
been admitted ! How different did a convent now 
appear from what I supposed it to be ! The holy 
women I had always fancied the nuns to be, the ven- 
erable Lady Superior, what were they ? And the 
priests of the Seminary adjoining (some of whom, 
indeed, I had reason to think were base and profli- 
gate men,) what were they all ? I now learned that 
they were often admitted into the nunnery, and al- 
lowed to indulge in the greatest crimes, which they 
called virtues. 

After having listened to the Superior alone, a num- 
ber of the nuns were admitted, and took a free part 
in the conversation. They concurred in everything 
which she told me, and repeated, without any shame 
or compunction, things which criminated themselves. 
I must acknowledge the truth, that all this had an ef- 
fect upon my mind. I questioned whether I might 
not be in the wrong, and felt as if their reasoning 
might have some just foundation. I had been several 
years under the tuition of Catholics, and was ignorant 
of the scriptures, and unaccustomed to the society, 
example, and conversation of Protestants ; had not 
heard any appeal to the Bible as authority, but had 
been taught, both by precept and example, to receive 
as truth everything said by the priests. I had not 
heard their authority questioned, nor anything said of 
any other standard of faith. I had long been familiar 
with the corrupt and lientious expressions used at 
confessions, and believed that other women were also. 
I had no standard of duty to refer to, and no judg- 
ment of my own which I knew how to use. 

All around me insisted that my doubts proved only 
my own ignorance and sinfulness ; that they knew 
by experience that they would soon give place to 
true knowledge, and an advance in religion ; and 
I felt something like indecision. 


Still there was bo much that disgusted me in. the 
debased characters around me, that I would most 
gladly have escaped from the nunnery, and never 
returned. But that was a thing not to be thought of. 

1 was in their power, and this I deeply felt, while I 
thought that there was not one among the whole 
number of nuns to whom I could look for kindness. 
There was one, however, who began to speak to me 
in a tone that gained my confidence, — the nun whom 
I have mentioned as distinguished by her oddity, 
Jane Ray, who made us so much amusement when I 
was a novice. Although there was nothing in her 
face, form, or manners to give me any pleasure, she 
addressed me with apparent friendliness; and while 
she seemed to concur with some things spoken by 
them, took an opportunity to whisper a few words in 
my ear, unheard by them, intimating that I had 
better comply with everything the Superior desired, if 
I would save my life. I was somewhat alarmed 
before, but I now became much more so, and deter- 
mined to make no further resistance. The Superior 
then made me repeat the three oaths; and, when I 
had sworn them, I was shown into the community- 
rooms, and remained some time with the nuns, who 
were released from their employments, and enjoyed a 
recreation day, on account of the admission of a new 
sister. My feelings during the remainder of the day 
I shall not describe, but pass on to the ceremonies that 
took place at dinner. 

At eleven o'clock the bell rang for dinner, and the 
nuns all took their places in a double row, in the same 
order as they left the chapel in the morning, except 
that my companion and myself were stationed at the 
head of the line. Standing thus for a moment, with 
our hands placed one on the other over the breast, and 
hidden in our large cuffs, with our heads bent forward, 
and eyes fixed on the floor; an old nun, who stood at 
the door, clapped her hands as a signal for us to pro- 
ceed; and the procession moved on, while we all com 


menced the repetition of litanies. We "walked on in 
this order, repeating all the way until we reached the 
dining-room, where we were divided into two lines; 
those on the right passing down one side of the long 
tahle, and those on the left the other; and each 
stopped in her place. The plates were all arranged, 
each with a knife, fork, and spoon, rolled up in a 
napkin, and tied round with a linen band marked with 
the owner's name. My own were prepared like the 
rest; and on the band around them I found my new 
name written — " Saint Eustace." 

There we stood till all had concluded the litany, 
when the old nun who had taken her place at the head 
of the tahle, said the prayer before meat, beginning, 
a Benedicte," and we sat down. I do not remember of 
what our dinner consisted, but we usually had soup, and 
some plain dish of meat, the remains of which were 
served up at supper as fricassee. One of the nuns, who 
had been appointed to read that day, rose and began a 
lecture from a book put into her hands by the Superior, 
while the rest of us ate in perfect silence. The nun 
who reads during dinner stays afterwards to dine. As 
fast as we finished our meals, each rolled up her knife, 
fork and spoon, in her napkin, and bound them 
together with the band, and sat with hands folded. 
The old nun then said a short prayer, arose, stepped a 
little aside, clapped her hands, and we marched towards 
the door, bowing as we passed before a little chapel, or 
glass box, containing a wax image of the infant Jesus. 

Nothing important occurred till late in the afternoon, 
when, as I was sitting in the community-room, Father 
Dufresne called me out, saying he wished to speak with 
me. I feared what was his intention ; but I dared not 
disobey. In a private apartment, he treated me in a 
brutal manner; and, from two other priests, I after- 
wards received similar usage that evening. Father 
Dufresne afterwards appeared again; and I was com- 
pelled to remain in company with him until morning. 

T am assured that the conduct of pripfts in our 


Convent had never been exposed, and it is not 
imagined by the people of the United States. This 
induces me to say what I do. notwithstanding the 
strong reasons I have to let it remain unknown. Still 
I cannot force myself to speak on such subjects except 
in the most brief manner. 


ON Thursday morning, the bell rang at half-past six 
to waken us. The old nun who was acting as 
night-watch immediately spoke aloud: 

"Voici le Seignieur qui vient." (Behold the Lord 
cometh.) The nuns all responded: 

"Allons — y pevant lui." (Let us go and meet him.) 
We arose immediately, and dressed quickly, stepping 
into the passage-way, at the foot of our bed, as soon as 
we were ready, and taking place each beside her opposite 
companion. Thus we were drawn up in a double row 
the length of the room, with our hands folded across 
our breasts, and concealed in the broad cuffs of our 
sleeves. Not a word was uttered. When the signal 
was given, we all proceeded to the community-room, 
and took our places in tows facing the entrance, near 
which the Superior was seated in a vergiere. We first 
repeated "Au nom du Pere, du Fils, et du Saint Esprit 
— Ainsi soit il." (In the name of the Father, the Son, 
and the Holy Ghost, — Amen.) We then kneeled and 
kissed the floor; then, still kneeling, on our knees, we 
said a long prayer, " Divin Jesus, sauveur de mon ame." 
(Divine Jesus, Saviour of my soul.) Then the Lord's 
prayer, three Hail Marys, four creeds, and five con- 


fessions, (confesse a Dieu.) the ten commandments; 
the acts of faith, and a prayer to the Virgin, in Latin, 
■which I never understood a word of. Next we said 
litanies of the Holy Name of Jesus, in Latin, which 
were afterwards to be repeated several times in the day. 
Then came the prayer for the beginning of the day; 
then bending down, we commenced the Orison Mental, 
(or Mental Orison,) which last about an hour and a 

This exercise was considered very solemn. We were 
told in the nunnery that a certain saint was saved by 
the use of it, as she never omitted it. It consists of 
several parts: First, the Superior read to us a chapter 
from a book, which occupied five minutes. Then 
profound silence prevailed for fifteen minutes, during 
which we were meditating upon it. Then she read 
another chapter of equal length on a different subject, 
and we meditated upon that another quarter of an 
hour; and after a third reading and meditation, we 
finished the exercise with a prayer for contrition, in 
which we asked forgiveness for the sins committed 
during the Orison. During this hour and a half J 
became very weary, having before been kneeling for 
some time, and having then to sit in another position 
more uncomfortable, with my feet under me, and my 
hands clasped, and my head bowed down. 

When the Orison was over, we all rose to the upright 
kneeling posture, and repeated several prayers, and the 
litanies of the providences, "providence de Dieu," &c., 
then followed a number of Latin prayers, which we 
repeated on the way to mass, for in the nunnery we had 
mass daily. 

When mass was over, we proceeded in our usual 
order to breakfast, practising the same forms which I 
have described at dinner. Having made our meal in 
silence, we repeated the litanies of the "holy name of 
Jems," as we proceeded to the community room ; and 
puch as had not finished them on their arrival, threw 
fnemselvfR upon their kn^es until they had go** 


through with them and then kissing the floor, rose 
again. At nine o'clock commenced the lecture which 
was read by a nun appointed to perform that duty that 
day: all the rest of us in the room being engaged in 

The nuns were distributed in different community 
rooms, at different kinds of work, and each was listen- 
ing to a lecture. This continued until ten o'clock, when 
the recreation-bell rang. We still continued our work, 
but the nuns conversed on subjects permitted by the 
rules, in the hearing of the old nuns, one of whom was 
seated in each of the groups. At half-past ten the 
silence bell rang, and this conversation instantly ceased, 
and the recitation of some Latin prayers continued half 
an hour. 

At eleven o'clock the dinner-bell rang, and we went 
through the forms of the preceding day. We pro- 
ceeded two by two. The old nun clapped her hands 
as the first couple reached the door, when we stopped. 
The first two dipped their fingers into the font, touched 
with the holy water the breast, forehead, and each side, 
thus forming a cross, said " In the name of the Father, 
Son, and Holy Ghost, Amen" and then walked to the 
dining-room repeating the litanies. The rest did the 
same. On reaching the door the couples divided, and 
the two rows of nuns marching up, stopped, and faced 
the table against their plates. There we repeated tile 
close of the litany aloud. The old nun pronounced 
"Benedicte," and we sat down. One of us read a 
lecture, during the whole meal: she stays to eat after 
the rest have retired. When we had dined, each of us 
folded up her napkin, and again folded her hands. The 
old nun then repeated a short prayer in French, and 
stepping from the head of the table, let us pass out as 
we came in. Each of us bowed in passing the little 
chapel near the door, which is a glass case, containing a 
waxen figure of the infant Jesus. When we reached 
the community-room we took our places in rows, and 
kneeled upon the floor, while a nun read aloud. 


"Doleurs de notre Sainte Marie," (the sorrows of our 
holy Mary). At the end of each verse we responded 
" Ave Maria." We then repeated the litany of the pro- 
vidences and the " Benissante." 

Then we kissed the floor, and rising, took our work, 
to converse on permitted subjects — called recreation — 
till one o'clock. We then repeated litanies, one at a 
time in succession, still sewing, for an hour. 

At two o'clock commenced the afternoon lectures, 
which lasted till near three. At that hour one of the 
nuns stood up in the middle of the room, and asked 
each of us a question out of the catechism; and such 
as did not answer correctly had to kneel, until that 
exercise was concluded, upon as many dry peas as 
there were verses in the chapter out of which they were 
questioned. I have sometimes kneeled on peas until I 
suffered great inconvenience and pain. It soon makes 
one feel as if needles were running through the skin. 
At four o'clock recreation commenced, when we were 
allowed to speak to each other while at work. At half- 
past four we began to repeat prayers in Latin, while we 
worked till five o'clock, when we repeated the " prayers 
for the examination of conscience," the R prayer after 
confession," the prayer before sacrament," and the 
" prayer after sacrament." At dark, we laid our work 
aside, and went over the same prayers which we had 
repeated in the morning excepting the orison mental: 
instead of that long exercise, we examined our con- 
sciences, to determir j whether we had performed the 
resolution we had made in the morning, and such as 
had repeated an "acte de joie," or expression of grati- 
tude ; such as had not, said an " acte de contrition." 

When the prayers were concluded, any nun who 
had been disobedient in the day knelt and asked 
pardon of the Superior and her companions " for the 
scandal she had caused them." and then requested a 
penance to perform. * When all the penances had been 
imposed, we all proceeded to the eating-room to sup- 
per, repeating litanies on the way. The eeremonie* 


were the same as at dinner, except that no lecture 
was read. We ate in silence, and went out bowing 
to the chapelle, and repeating litanies. Returning to 
the community-room, we had more prayers to repeat, 
which are called La couronne (crown), which consists 
of the following parts: — 1st. Four Paters. 2nd. Four 
Ave Marias. 3rd. Four Gloria patris. 4th. Benissea 
Santeys. At the close we kissed the floor; then had 
recreation till half-past eight o'clock, conversing on 
permitted subjects, but closely watched, and not allowed 
to sit in the corners. 

At half-past eight a bell was rung, and a chapter 
was read to us, in a book of meditations, to employ 
our minds upon during our waking hours at night. 
Standing near the door, we dipped our fingers in the 
holy water, crossed and blessed ourselves and pro- 
ceded to the sleeping room two by two. When we had 
got into bed, we repeated a pTayer beginning with. — 
" Mon Dieu, je vous donne mon coeur," 
"My God I give you my heart;" 
and then an old nun, bringing some holy water, sprinkled 
it on our beds to drive away the devil, while we crossed 
ourselves with it again. At nine o'clock the bell rang, 
and all awake repeated a prayer, called the offrande; 
those who were asleep were considered as excused. 

After my admission among the nuns, I had more 
opportunity to observe the conduct of mad Jane Ray. 
She behaved quite differently from the rest, and with a 
degree of levity irreconcileable with the rules. She 
was a large woman, with nothing beautiful or attrac- 
tive in her face, form, or manners, careless in her 
dress, and of a restless disposition, which prevented 
her from applying herself to anything for any length 
of time, and kept her roving about, and always talk- 
ing to somebody or other. She was dressed in the 
plain garments of the nuns, bound by the same vowb, 
and accustomed to the 6ame life, resembling them in 
nothing else, and frequently interrupting all their em- 
ployment*. She was apparently always studying, w 


pursuing some odd fancy; now rising from sewing to 
walk up and down, or straying in another apartment 
looking about, addressing some of us, passing out 
again, or saying something to make us laugh But 
what showed she was no novelty, was the little atten- 
tion paid to her, and the levity with which she was 
treated by the whole nuns; even the Superior every 
day passed over irregularities which she would have 
punished with penances, in any other. I soon per- 
ceived that she betrayed two distinct traits of charac- 
ter; a kind disposition towards such as she chose to 
prefer, and a pleasure in teasing those she disliked, 
or such as had offended her. 


TWILL now give from memory a general descrip- 
tion of the interior of the Convent of Black Nuns, 
except the few apartments which I never saw. I 
may he inaccurate in some things, as the apartments 
and passages of that spacious building are numerous 
and various; but I am willing to risk my credit for 
truth and sincerity on the general correspondence be- 
tween my description and things as they are. And 
this would, perhaps, be as good a case as any by 
which to test the truth of my statements, were it 
possible to obtain access to the interior. It is well 
known that none but veiled nuns, the bishop and 
priests, are ever admitted ; and, of course, that I can- 
not have seen what I profess to describe, if I had not 
been a black nun. The priests who read this book 
will acknowledge to themselves the truth of my de- 
scription; but will, of course, deny it to the world, 


and probably exert themselves to destroy my credit 
I offer to every reader the following description, know- 
ing that time may possibly throw open those secret 
recesses, and allow the entrance of those who can 
satisfy themselves of its truth. Some of my declara- 
tions may be thought deficient in evidence, which 
must of necessity be in the present state of things. 
But here is a kind of evidence on which I rely, as I 
see how unquestionable and satisfactory it nmst prove, 
whenever it shall be obtained. 

If the interior of the Black Nunnery, whenever it 
shall be examined, is materially different from the 
following description, then I shall claim no confidence 
of my readers. If it resemble it, they will, I presume, 
place confidence in some of those declarations, on 
which I may never be corroborated by true and living 

I am sensible that great changes may be made in 
the furniture of apartments ; that new walls may be 
constructed, or old ones removed ; and I have been 
informed that masons have been employed in the 
Nunnery since I left it. I well know that entire 
changes cannot be made, and that enough must remain 
to substantiate my description, whenever the truth shall 
be known. 


Beginning at the extremity of the western wing of 
the Convent, towards Notre Dame street, on the first 
storey, there is — 

1. The nuns' private chapel, adjoining which is a 
passage to a small projection of the building extend- 
ing from the upper storey to the ground, with small 
windows. Into the passage we were required to bring 
wood from the yard, and pile it for use. 

2. A large community-room, with plain benches 
fixed against the wall to sit and lower ones in front 
to place our feet upon. There is a fountain in the 
passage near the chimney at the further end, for 


washing the hands and face, with a green curtain 
sliding on a rod before it. This passage leads to the 
old nuns' sleeping-room on the right, and the Superior's 
sleeping-room beyond it, as well as to a stair-case which 
conduct to the nuns' sleeping-room above. At the end 
of the passage is a door opening into — 

3. The dining-room; this is larger than the com- 
munity-room, and has three long tables for eating^ and 
a collection of little pictures, a crucifix, and an image 
of the infant Saviour in a glass case. This apartment 
has four doors, by the first of which we are supposed to 
have entered, while one opens to a pantry, and the third 
and fourth to the two next apartments. 

4. A large community-room, with tables for sewing, 
and a stair-case on the opposite left-hand corner. 

5. A community-room for prayer, used by both nuns 
and novices. In the farther right-hand corner is a 
small room, partitioned off, called the room for the 
examination of conscience, which I had visited while 
a novice by permission of the Superior, and where 
nuns and novices occasionally resorted to reflect on 
their character, usually in preparation for the sacra- 
ment, or when they had transgressed some of the rules. 
This little room was hardly large enough to contain 
half a dozen persons at a time. 

6. Next, beyond, is a large community-room for 
Sundays. A door leads to the yard, and thence to a 
gate in the wall on the cross street. 

7. Adjoining this is a sitting-room, fronting on the 
cross street, with two windows, and a store room on the 
side opposite them. There is but little furniture, and 
that very plain. 

8. From this room a door leads into what I call the 
wax-room, as it contains many figures in wax, not in- 
tended for sale. There we sometimes used to pray, or 
meditate on the Saviour's passion. This room projects 
from the main building ; leaving it, you enter a long 
passage, with clipboards on the right, in which are stored 
crockeryware, knives and forks, and other articles of 


table furniture, to replace those worn out or broken — all 
of the plainest description; also, shovels, tongs, &c. 
This passage leads to — 

9. A corner room, with a few benches, &c, and a 
door leading to a gate in the street. Here some of 
the medicines were kept, and persons were often ad- 
mitted on business, or to obtain medicines with tickets 
from the priests ; and waited till the Superior or an 
old nun could be sent for. Beyond this room we never 
were allowed to go; and I cannot speak from personal 
knowledge of what came next. 


Beginning, as before, at the western extremity of 
the north wing, but on the second storey, the farthest 
apartment in that direction which I ever entered was — 

1. The nuns' sleeping-room, which I have described. 
Here is an access to the projection mentioned in speak- 
ing of the first storey. The stairs by which we came up 
to bed are at the farther end of the room; and near 
them a crucifix and font of holy water. A door at the 
end of the room opens into a passage with two small 
rooms, and closets between them, containing bedclothes. 
Next you enter — 

2. A small community-room, beyond which is a 
passage with a narrow staircase, seldom used, which 
leads to the fourth community-room, in the fourth 
storey. Following the passage just mentioned you 
enter by a door — 

3. A little sitting-room furnished in the following 
manner: with chairs, a sofa on the north side covered 
with a red-figured cover and fringe; a table in the 
middle, commonly bearing one or two books, an ink- 
stand, pen, &c. At one corner is a little projection 
into the room, caused by a staircase leading from, 
above to the floor below, without any communication 
with the second storey. This room has a door opening 
upon a staircase leading on the yard, on the opposite 
side is a gate opening into the cross street By this 
way the physician is admitted, except when he comes 


later than usual. When he comes in, he sits a little 
•while, until a nun goes into the adjoining nuns' sick- 
room, to see if all is ready, and returns to admit him. 
After prescribing for the patient he goes no further, 
but returns by the way he enters ; and these are the only 
rooms into which he is admitted. 

4. The nuns' sick-room adjoins the little sitting- 
room on the east, and has four windows towards the 
north, with beds ranged in two rows from end to end, 
and a few more between them, near the opposite 
extremity. The door to the sitting-room swings to 
the left, and behind it is a table, while a glass case 
contains a wax figure of the infant Saviour, with several 
sheep. Near the north-eastern corner are two doors, 
one of which opens into a narrow passage, leading to 
the head of the great staircase that conducts to the cross 
street. By this passage the physician sometimes finds 
his way to the sick-room, when he comes late. He 
rings the bell at the gate, which I was told had a con- 
cealed pull, known only to him and the priests, proceeds 
upstairs and through the passage, rapping three times 
at the door of the sick-room, which is opened by a nun 
in attendance, after she had given one rap in reply. 
He returns by the same way. 

5. Next, beyond the sick-room, is a large unoccu- 
pied apartment, half divided by two partitions, which 
leave an open space in the middle. Here some of the 
old nuns meet in the day time. 

6. A door from this apartment opens into another, 
not appropriated to any particular use, hut containing 
a table, where medicines are sometimes prepared by an 
old nun. Passing through this room you enter a pas- 
sage, with doors on its four sides: that on the left, 
which is kept fastened on the inside, leads to the 
staircase and gate; and that in the front to private sick- 

7. That on the right leads to another, appropriated 
to nuns suffering with the most loathsome disease. 
There were usually a number of straw mattresses in 


that room, as I well know, having helped to carry 
them in, after the yardman had filled them. A door 
beyond enters into a store-room, which extends also 
beyond this apartment. On the right another door 
opens into another passage, crossing which you enter 
by a door — 

8. A room with a bed and screen in one corner, on 
which nuns were laid to be examined before their in- 
troduction into the sick-room last mentioned. Another 
door, opposite, opens into a passage, in which is a stair- 
case leading down. 

9. Beyond this is a spare room, sometimes used to 
store apples, boxes of different things, &c. 

10. Returning now to the passage which opens on 
one side upon the stairs, to the gate, we enter the only 
remaining door, which leads into an apartment usually 
occupied by some of the old nuns, and frequently by 
the Superior. 

11. and 12. Beyond this are two more sick-rooms, 
in one of which those nuns stay who are waiting their 
accouchment, and in the other those who have passed it. 

13. The next is a 6mall sitting-room, where a priest 
waits to baptise the infants previous to their murder. 
A passage leads from this room on the left, by the doors 
of two succeeding apartments, neither of which have I 
ever entered. 

14. The first of them is the "holy retreat/' or room 
occupied by the priests while suffering the penalty of 
their licentiousness. 

15. The other is a sitting-room to which they have 
access. Beyond these the passage leads to two rooms 
containing closets for the storage of various articles; 
and two others, where persons are received who come 
on business. 

The public hospitals succeed, and extend a consider- 
able distance to the extremity of the building. By a 
public entrance in that part priests often come into the 
Nunnery; and I have often seen some of them there- 
abouts, who must have entered that way. Priests often 


get into the • holy retreat/' without exposing themselves 
to the view of other parts of the Convent, and have been 
first known to be there by the yard-nuns being sent to 
the Seminary for their clothes. 

The Congregational Nunnery was founded by a nun, 
called Sister Bourgeoise. She taught a school in Mont- 
real, and left property for the foundation of a Convent. 
Her body is buried, and her heart is kept under the 
Nunnery in an iron chest, which has been shown to me, 
with the assurance that it continues in perfect preserva- 
tion, although she has been dead more than one hundred 
and fifty years. In the chapel is the following inscrip- 
tion : — 

" Soeur Bourgeoise, Fondatrice du convent." (Sister 
Bourgeoise, Founder of the Convent.) 

Nothing was more common than for the Superior to 
step hastily into our community-room, while numbers 
of us were assembled there, and hastily communicate 
her wishes in words like these: — 

" Here are the parents of such a novice ; come with 
me and bear me out in this story ." She would then 
mention the outlines of a tissue of falsehoods she had 
just invented that we might be prepared to fabricate 
circumstances, and throw in whatever else might favour 
the deception. This was justified and highly com- 
mended, by what we were instructed. 

It was a common remark at the initiation of a new 
nun into the Black Nunnery to receive the black veil, 
that the introduction of another novice into the Con- 
vent as a veiled nun, always caused the introduction of 
a veiled nun into heaven as a saint, which was on ac- 
count of the disappearance of some of the older nuns 
always at the entrance of new ones. 

To witness the scenes which often occurred between 
us and strangers would have struck a person most 
powerfully, if he had known how truth was set at 
nought. The Superior, with a serious and dignified 
air. and a pleasant voice and aspect, would commence 
a recital of things most favourable to the character of 
the absent novice, representing her equally flood of her 


situation, and beloved by the other inmates. The tale 
told by the Superior, however unheard before might 
have been any of her statements, was then attested by 
us, who in every way we could think of, confirmed her 
declarations beyond the reach of doubt. 

Sometimes the Superior would intrust the manage- 
ment of a case to the nuns, to habituate us to the 
practice in which 6he was so highly accomplished, or 
to relieve herself of what would have been a serious 
burden to most other persons, and to ascertain whether 
she could depend upon us. Often have I seen her throw 
open a door, and say, in a hurried manner, 

" Who can tell the best story ? " 

One point on which we had received particular 
instructions was, the nature of falsehoods. I have 
heard many a speech, and many a sermon; and I was 
led to believe that it was of great importance, one on 
which it was a duty to be well informed, as well as to 

* What ! " exclaimed a priest one day — " what, a nun 
of your age, and not know the difference between a 
wicked and a religious lie ? " He then went on, as had 
been done many times in my hearing, to show the 
essential difference between the two different kinds of 
falsehoods. A lie told merely for the injury of another, 
for our own interest alone, or for no object at all, he 
painted as a sin worthy of penance. But a lie told for 
the good of the church or convent, was meritorious, and 
the telling of it a duty. And of this class of lies there 
are many varieties and shades. This doctrine had been 
inculcated on me and my companions, more times than 
I can enumerate. We often saw the practice of it, and 
were frequently made to take part in it. Whenever 
anything which the Superior thought important, could 
be most conveniently accomplished by falsehood, she 
resorted to it without scruple. 

There was a class of cases, in which she more fre- 
quently relied on deception than any other. 

The friends of novices frequently applied at the Cod- 


vent to see them or to inquire after their welfare. It 
was common for them to be politely refused an inter- 
view, on some account or other, a mere pretext ; and then 
the Superior sought to make as favourable an impres- 
sion as possible on the visitors. Sometimes she would 
make up a story on the spot, and tell the strangers; 
requiring some of us to confirm it in the most con- 
vincing way. At other times she would make over to 
us the task of deceiving, and we were commended in 
proportion to our ingenuity and success. 

Some nun usually showed her submission by imme- 
diately stepping forward. She would then add, that 
the parents of such a novice, whom she named, were in 
waiting, and it was necassary that they should be told 
such and such things. To perform so difficult a task 
well, was considered a difficult duty, and it was one of 
the most certain ways to gain the favour of the Supe- 
rior. Whoever volunteered to make a story on the 
spot, was sent immediately to tell it, and the other nuns 
present with her under strict injunctions to uphold 
her in everything she might state. The Superior, on 
all such occasions, when she did not herself appear, 
hastened to the apartment adjoining, there to listen 
through the thin partition, to hear whether all per- 
formed their parts aright. It was not uncommon for 
her to go rather further, when she wanted to give such 
explanations as she could have desired. 

She would then enter abruptly, ask, "Who can tell 
a good story this morning?" and hurry us off without a 
moment's delay, to do our best at a venture, without 
waiting for instructions. It would be curious, could a 
stranger from the " wicked world * outside the Convent, 
witness such a scene. One of the nuns who felt in a 
favourable humour to undertake the proposed task, 
would step forward, and signify readiness in the usual 
way, by a knowing wink of one eye, and a slight toss of 
the head. 

"Well, go and do the best you can." the Superior 
would say ; " and all the rest of you mind and swear to 

51 MARIA I10KK. 

it." The latter part of the order was always perform- 
ed; for in every case, all the nuns present appeared as 
unanimous witnesses of everything that was uttered by 
the spokeswoman. 

We were constantly hearing it repeated, that we 
must never again look upon ourselves as our own ; 
but must remember, that we were solemnly and irre- 
coverably devoted to God. I cannot speak to every 
particular with equal freedom: but I wish my readers 
to understand the condition in wfrich we were placed, 
and the means used to reduce us to what we had 
to submit to. Not only were we required to per- 
form the several tasks imposed upon us at work, 
prayers and penances, under the idea that we were per- 
forming solemn duties to our Maker, but everything 
else which was required of us, we were constantly told, 
was indispensable in His sight. The priests, we 
admitted, were the servants of God, especially ap- 
pointed by His authority to teach us our duty, to ab- 
solve ua from sin, and lead us to heaven. Without 
their assistance, we had allowed, we could never enjoy 
the favour of God; unless they administered the sacra- 
ment to us, we could not enjoy everlasting happiness. 
Having acknowledged all this, we had no objection to 
urge against admitting any other demand that migfc* 
be made by them. If we thought an act ever se 
criminal, the Superior would tell us that the priests 
acted under the direct sanction of God, and could not 
sin. Of course, then, it could not be wrong to comply 
with any of their requests, because they could not 
demand anything but what was right. On the con- 
trary, to refuse to do anything they asked would 
necessarily be sinful. Such doctrines admitted, and 
such practices performed, it will not seem wonderful 
that we often felt something of their preposterous 

Sometimes we took pleasure in ridiculing some of 
the favourite themes of our teachers; and I recollect 
one subject particularly, that afforded us merriment. 


It may seem irreverent in me to give the account, but 
I do it to show how things of a solemn nature were 
sometimes treated by women bearing the title of saints. 
A Canadian novice, who spoke very broken English, 
one day remarked that she was performing some duty 
"for the God." This peculiar expression had some- 
thing ridiculous to our ears: and it was soon repeated 
again and again, in application to various ceremonies 
which we had to perform. Mad Jane Ray seized upon 
it with avidity, and with her aid it soon took the place 
of a by-word in conversation, so that we were con- 
stantly reminding each other that we were doing this 
thing and that thing " for the God." Nor did we stop 
here; when the Superior called upon us to bear wit- 
ness to one of her religious lies, or to fabricate the most 
spurious one the time would admit; we were sure to be 
reminded, on our way to the stranger's room, that we 
were doing it " for the God." And so it was when 
other things were mentioned — everything which be- 
longed to our condition was spoken of in similar terms. 

I have hardly detained the reader long enough to 
give him a just impression of the stress laid on con- 
fession. It is one of the great points to which our 
attention was constantly directed. We were directed 
to keep a strict and constant watch over our thoughts; 
to have continually before our minds the rules of the 
Convent, to remember every devotion, and tell all, even 
the smallest, at confession, either to the Superior or to 
the priest. My mind was thus kept in a continual state 
of activity which proved very wearisome; and it requir- 
ed the constant exertion of our teachers to keep us up 
to the practice they inculcated. 

Another tale recurs to me. of those which were fre- 
quently told us, to make us feel the importance of un- 
reserved confession. 

A nun of our Convent, who had hidden some sin 
from her confessor, diod suddenly, and without any one 
to confess her. Her sisters assembled to pray for the 
peace of her soul, when she appeared and said, that it 


would be of no use, but rather troublesome to her, as 
her pardon was impossible. The doctrine is, that prayers 
made for souls guilty of unconfessed sin, do but sink 
them deeper in hell; and this is the reason for not pray- 
ing for Protestants. 

The authority of the priest in everything, and the 
enormity of every act which opposes it, were also im- 
pressed upon our minds by our teachers A " Father " 
told us the following story: 

A man once died who had failed to pay some money 
which the priest had asked of him; he was condemned 
to be burnt in purgatory until he should pay it, but 
had permission to come back to this world, and take 
a human body to work in. He came again on earth, 
and hired himself to a rich man as a labourer. He 
worked all day, with the fire burning in him, unseen by 
other people; but while he was in bed that night a girl 
perceiving the smell of brimstone, looked through a 
crack in the wall, and saw him covered with flames. 
She informed his master, who questioned him the next 
morning, and found that he was secretly suffering the 
pains of purgatory for neglecting to pay a sum of money 
to the priest. He, therefore, furnished him with the 
amount due; it was paid, and the servant went off im- 
mediately to heaven. The priest cannot forgive any 
debt due unto him, because it is the Lord's estate. 

While at confession, I was urged to hide nothing 
from the priests, they said that they already knew what 
was in my heart, but would not tell, because it was 
necessary for me to confess it. I believed that the 
priests were acquainted with' my thoughts; and often 
6tood in awe of them. They often told me that they 
had the power to strike me dead at any moment 



I FOUND that I had several namesakes among the 
nuns, two others who had already borne away my 
name, Saint Eustace. This was not a solitary case, for 
there were five Saint Marys, and three Saint Monros, 
besides two novices of that name. Of my namesakes 
I have little to say, for they resembled most nuns ; being 
so much cut off from intercourse with me and other 
8isters, that I never saw anything in them, nor learnt 
anything worth mentioning. 

Several of my new companions were squaws, who 
had taken the veil at different times. They were from 
the Indian settlements in the country, but were not 
distinguishable by any striking habits of character from 
other nuns, and were not very different in their ap- 
pearance when in their usual dress, and engaged in 
their occupations. They were treated with much kind- 
ness and lenity by the Superior and the old nuns; and 
this was done in order to render them as contented 
and happy in their situation as possible: and I should 
have attributed the motives for this partiality to their 
wishing that they might not influence others to keep 
away, had I not known they were, like ourselves, un- 
able to exert such an influence. And therefore I could 
not satisfy my mind why this difference was made. 
Many of the Indians were remarkably devoted to the 
priests, believing everything they were taught ; and as it 
is represented to be not only a high honour, but a real 
advantage to a family, to have one of its members be- 
come a nun, Indian parents pay large sums of money 
for the admission of their daughters into a convent. 
The father of one of the squaws, I was told, paid to 
the Superior nearly her weight in silver on her recep- 
tion, although he was obligee) to sell nearly all hi3 pro- 


perty to do it This he did voluntarily, because he 
thought himself overpaid by having the advantage of 
her prayers, self-sacrifices, &c, for himself and family. 
The squaws sometimes served to amuse us; for when 
we were partially dispirited or gloomy, the Superior 
would send them to dress themselves in their Indian 
garments, which usually excited us to merriment. 

Amongst the squaw nuns whom I remember, was one 
of the Saint Hypolites, not the one who figured in a 
dreadful scene, described in another part of this narra- 
tive, but a woman of & more mild and humane char* 

A few days after my reception, the Superior sent me 
into the cellar for coals; and after 6he had given me 
directions, I proceeded down a staircase with a lamp. 
I soon found myself on the bare earth, in a spacious 
place, so dark that I could not at once distinguish its 
form or size, but I observed that it had very solid stone 
walls, and was arched overhead, at no great elevation. 
Following my directions, I proceeded onwards from the 
foot of the stairs, where appeared to be one end of the 
cellar. After walking about fifteen paces, I passed 
three small doors on the right, fastened with large iron 
bolts on the outside, pushed into posts of stone work, 
each having a small opening above, covered with a fine 
grating, secured by a smaUer bolt. On my left were 
three similar doors, resembling these, and opposite 

Beyond these, the space became broader; the doors 
evidently closed small compartments, projecting from 
the outer wall of the cellar. I soon stepped upon a 
wooden floor, on which were heaps of wood, coarse 
linen, and other articles, deposited there for occasional 
use. I crossed the floor, a^d found the bare earth again 
under my feet. 

A little further on I found the cellar contracted in 
size by a row of closets, or smaller compartments, pro- 
jecting on each side. These were closed by different 


doors from the first, having a simple fastening, and no 
opening through them. 

Just beyond, on the left side, I passed a staircase 
leading up, and then three doors, much resembling 
those first described, standing opposite three more, on 
the other side of the cellar. Having passed these I 
found the cellar again enlarged as before, and here the 
earth appeared as if mixed with some whitish substance, 
which attracted my attention. 

As I proceeded, I found the whiteness increase, until 
the surface looked almost like snow, and I observed 
before me a hole dug go deep into the earth that I could 
perceive no bottom. I stopped to observe it — it was 
circular, twelve or fifteen feet across, in the middle 
of the cellar, and unprotected by any curb, so that one 
might easily have walked into it in the dark. 

The white subtance was spread all over the surface 
around it; and lay in such quantities on all sides, that 
it seemed as if a great deal must have been thrown into 
the hole. It occurred to me that the white substance 
was lime, and that this was the place where the infants 
were buried, after being murdered, as the Superior had 
informed me. I knew that lime is often used by 
Horn an Catholics in burying places; and this accounted 
for its being about the spot in such quantities. 

This was a shocking thought to me; but I can hardly 
tell how it affected me, as I had been prepared to ex- 
pect dreadful things, and undergone trials which pre- 
vented me from feeling as I should formerly have done 
in similar circumstances. 

I passed the pit, therefore, with dreadful thoughts 
about the little corpses which might be in that secret 
burying place, but with recollections also of the declara- 
tions about the favour done their souls in sending them 
direct to heaven, and the necessary virtue accompanying 
all the actions of the priests. 

There is a window or two on each side nearly against 
the hole, in at which are sometimes thrown articles 


brought to them from without for the use of the Con- 
vent. Through the window on my right, which opens 
into the yard, towards the cross street, lime is received 
from carts ; I then saw a large heap of it near the place. 

Passing the hole, I came to a spot where was another 
projection on each side, with three cells like those I first 
described. Beyond them, in another part of the cellar, 
were heaps of vegetables, and other things; and on the 
left I found the charcoal I was in search of. This was 
placed in a heap against the wall, near a small high 
window,, like the xeat, at which it is thrown in. Beyond 
this spot, at a short distance, the cellar terminated. 

The top, quite to that point, is arched overhead, 
though at different heights, for the earth on the bottom 
is uneven, and in some places several feet higher than 
in others. Not liking to be alone in so spacious and 
gloomy a part of the Convent, especially after the dis- 
covery I had made, I hastened to fill my basket and to 

Here then I was in a place which I had considered as 
the nearest imitation of heaven to be found on earth, 
amongst a society where deeds were perpetrated, which 
I had believed to be criminal, and had now found the 
place in which harmless infants were unfeelingly 
thrown out of sight, after being murdered. And yet, 
such is the power of instruction and example, although 
not satisfied, as many around me seemed to be, that 
this was all righteous and proper, I sometimes was 
inclined to believe it, for the priests could do no sin. 
Among the first instructions I received from the 
Superior, one was to admit priests into the Nunnery, 
from the street, at irregular hours. It is no secret that 
priests enter and go out; but if they were to be 
watched by any person in St. Paul's street all day 
long, no irregularity might be suspected; and they 
might be supposed to visit the Convent for the perform- 
ance of religious ceremonies merely. 

But if a person were near the gate about midnight, h* 


might form a different opinion; for when a stray priest 
is shut out of the Seminary, or is put in the need of 
seeking a lodging, he is sure of being admitted into 
the Black Nunnery. Nobody but the priest can ring 
the bell at the sick-room door; much less can any but 
a priest gain admittance. The pull of the bell ia 
entirely concealed on the outside of the gate. 

He makes himself known as a priest by a hissing 
sound, made by the tongue against the teeth while they 
are kept closed and the lips open. The nun within, 
who delays to open the door until informed who is there, 
immediately recognizes the signal, and replies with two 
inarticulate sounds, such as are often used instead of 
yes, with the mouth closed. 

The Superior considered this part of my instructions 
important, and taught me the signals. I had often 
occasion to use them; I have been repeatedly called to 
the door, in the night, while watching in the sick-room ; 
and on reaching it, heard the hissing sound, then ac- 
cording to my orders, unfastened the door, admitted a 
priest, who was at liberty to go where he pleased. T 
will name M. Bierze, from St. Denis. 

The books used in the nunnery, such as T recollect of 
them, were the following. Most of these are lecture 
books, such as are used by the daily readers, while we 
were at work and meals. These were all furnished by 
the Superior, out of her library, to which we never had 
access. When we had done with the book, it was ex- 
changed for another, as she pleased to select. La Miroir 
de Chretien (Christian Mirror), History of Rome, 
History of the Church, Life of Scaur Bourgeoise, (the 
founder of the Convent), in two volumes, L'Ange Con- 
ducteur (the Guardian Angel), L'Ange Chretien (the 
Christian Angel), Les Vies des Saints (Lives of the 
Saints), in several volumes; Dialogues, a volume con- 
sisting of conversations between a Protestant Doctor, 
called Dr. D., and a Catholic gentleman, on the articles 
of faith, in which, after much ingenious reasoning, the 


former was confuted; one large book, the name I have, 
forgotten, occupied us nine or ten months at our 
lectures, night and morning; L'Instruction de la 
Jeunesse (the Instruction of Youth), containing much 
about Convents, and the education of persons in the 
world, with a great deal on confession, &c. Examen 
de la Conscience (Examination of Conscience), is a 
book frequently used. 

I never saw a Bible in the Convent from the day I 
entered as a novice, until that on which I effected my 
escape. The Catholic New Testament, commonly 
called the Evangile, was read to us three or four times 
a year. The Superior directed the reader what pas- 
sages to select; but we never had it in our hands to 
read when we pleased. I often heard the Protestant 
Bible spoken of in bitter terms, as a most dangerous 
book, and which never ought to k*J in the hands of com- 
mon people. 



LARGE quantities of bread are made in the Black 
Nunnery every week; for besides what is neces- 
sary to feed the nuns, many of the poor are supplied. 
When a priest wishes to give a loaf of bread to a poor 
person, he gives him an order, which is presented at the 
Convent. The making of bread is the most laborious 
employment in the institation. 

The manufacture of wax candles was another impor- 
tant branch of business in the nunnery. It was carried 
on in a small room, on the first floor, called the 
ciergerie, or wax room, cierge being the French word 
for wax. I was sometimes sent to read the daily 
lecture and catechism, but found it a very unpleasant 
task, as the smell rising from the melted wax gave me 
a sickness at the stomach. The employment was con- 
sidered unhealthy, and those were assigned to it who 
had the strongest constitutions. The nuns who were 
more commonly employed in that room, were Saint 
Maria, Saint Catherine, Saint Charlotte, Saint Frances, 
Saint Hyacinthe, Saint Hypolite, and others. But with 
these, as with others in the Convent, I was never al- 
lowed to speak, except under circumstances before men- 
tioned. I was sent to read and was not allowed to 
answer the most trivial question, if one were asked. 
Should a nun say, " What o'clock is it ?" I never dared 
to reply, but was required to report her to the Superior. 

Much stress was laid on the sainte scapulairt, or holy 
scapulary. This is a small band of cloth or silk, 
formed in a particular manner, to be tied around the 
neck, by two strings, fastened to the ends. I have 
made many of them ; having been get to make them ta 


the Convent On one side is marked a double crosa 
(thus, + -f ) and on the other I.H.S. Such a band is 
called a scapulary, and many miracles are attributed to 
its power. Children on first receiving the communion 
are often presented with scapulariea, which they are 
taught to regard with great reverence. We were told 
of the wonders effected by their means, in the addresses 
made to us, by priests, at catechism or lectures. I will 
repeat one or two of the stories. 

A Koman Catholic servant woman, who. had con- 
cealed some of her sins at confession, acted so hypo- 
critical a part as to make her mistress believe her a 
devote*, or strict observer of her duty. She even 
imposed upon her confessor so that he gave her a 
scapulary. After he had given it, however, one of the 
aaints in heaven informed him in a vision, that the holy 
scapulary must not remain on the neck of so great a 
sinner, and that it must be restored to the church. She 
lay down that night with the scapulary round her 
throat; but in the morning was found dead, with her 
head cut off, and the scapulary was discovered in the 
church. The belief was that the devil could not endure 
to have so holy a thing on one of hisr^lelrvants, and had 
pulled so hard to get it off, as to draw the silken thread 
with which it was tied, through her neck; after which, 
by some divine power, it was restored to the church. 

Another story. A poor Roman Catholic was once 
taken a prisoner by the heretics. He had a aainte 
tcapulaire on his neck, when God, seeing him in the 
midst of his foes, took it from the neck by a miracle, 
and held it up in the air above the throng of heretics; 
one hundred of whom were converted, by seeing it thus 
supernaturally suspended. 

I had been informed that there was a subterraneous, 
passage, leading from the cellar of our Convent, into the 
Congregational Nunnery; but, though I had so often 
visited the cellar, I had never seen it One day, after I 
had been received three or four months, T was sent to 


walk through it on my knees with another nun, a» ft 
penance. This, and other penances, were sometimes 
put upon us b y the priests, without any reason assigned. 
The common way was to tell us of the Ein for which a 
penance was imposed, but we were left many times to 
conjecture. Now and then the priest would inform 
us at the subsequent confession, when he happened to 
recollect something about it, as I thought, and not be- 
cause he reflected or cared much upon the subject. 

The nun who was with me led through the cellar, 
passing to the right of the secret burial place, and 
showed me the door of the subterraneous passage, 
which was towards the Congregational Nunnery. The 
reasons why I had not noticed it before, were, that it 
was made to shut close and even with the wall; and 
that part of the cellar was whitewashed. The door 
opens with a latch into a passage about four feet and a 
half high. We got upon our knees, commenced saying 
the prayers required, and began to more slowly along 
the dark and narrow passage. It may be fifty or sbrty 
feet in length. When we reached the end, we opened 
the door, and found ourselves in the cellar of the 
Congregational Nunnery, at some distance from the 
outer wall. By the side of the door was placed a list 
of nameB of the Black Nuns, with a slide that might be 
drawn over any of them. We covered our names in 
this manner, as evidence of having performed the duty 
assigned to us; and then returned downwards on our 
knees, by the way we had come. This penance I re- 
peatedly performed afterwards ; and by this way, nuns 
from the Congregational Nunnery sometimes entered our 
Convent for worse purposes. 

We were frequently assured that miracles are still 
performed; and pains were taken to impress us deeply 
on this subject. The superior often spoke to us of the 
Virgin Mary's pincushion, the remains of which are 
preserved in trip Convent, though it has crumbled quite 
to dust W9 regarded this relic with such veneration, 


that we were afraid even to look at it, and we often 
heard the following story related, when the subject was 

A priest in Jerusalem had a vision, when he was 
informed that the house in which the Virgin had lived, 
should be removed from its foundations, and trans- 
ported to a distance. He did not think the communi- 
cation was from God, and disregarded it, but the house 
was soon after missed, which convinced him that the 
vision was true, and he told where the house might be 
found. A picture of the house is preserved in the 
Nunnery, and was shown us. There are also wax 
figures of Joseph sawing wood, and Jesus, as a child, 
picking up the chips. We were taught to sing a song 
relating to this, the chorus of which I remember : 

*' Saint Joseph carpentier, 

Petit Jesus ramassait les copeaux 

Pour faire bouillir la marmite^ , 

(St. Joseph was a carpenter, little Jesus collected 
chips to make the pot boil!) I recollect a story about 
a family in Italy saved from shipwreck by a priest, 
who were in consequence converted, and had two sons 
honoured with the priest's office. 

I had heard, before I entered the Convent, about a 
great fire which had destroyed a number of houses in 
the Quebec suburbs, and which some said the Bishop 
extinguished with holy water. I once heard a Catholic 
and a Protestant disputing on this subject, and when 
I went to the Congregational Nunnery, I sometimes 
heard the children, alluding to the same story, say at 
an alarm of fire, " Is it a Catholic fire ? Then why 
does not the Bishop run?" 

Among the topics on which the Bishop addressed 
the nuns in the Convent, this was one. He told us 
the story one day, that he could have sooner inter- 
fered and stopped the flames, but that at last, finding 


they were about to destroy to© many Catholic houses, 
he threw holy water on the fire, and extinguished it. 1 
Uelieved this, and also thought that he was able to put 
cut any lire. 

The holy water which the Bishop has consecrated, 
was considered more efficacious than any blessed by a 
priest: and this it was which was used in the Convent 
in sprinkling our beds. It has virtue in it, to keep oh* 
any evil spirit 

Now that I was a nun, I was sent to read lectures 
to the novices, as other nuns had been while I was a 
novice. There were but few of us who were thought 
capable of reading English well enough, and, there- 
fore, I was more frequently sent than I might other- 
wise have been. The Superior often said to me, as I 
was going : " Try to convert them — save their souls — 
you know you will have a higher place in heaven for 
every one you convert." 

For whatever reason, Mad Jane Ray seemed to 
take great delight in crossing and provoking the 
Superior and old nuns: and often she would cause an 
interruption when it was most displeasing to them. 
The preservation of silence was insisted upon most 
rigidly, and penances of such a nature were imposed 
for breaking it, that it was a constant source of 
uneasiness with me, to know that I might infringe 
the rules in so many ways, and that inattention might 
at any moment subject me to them. During the per- 
iods of meditation, and those of lecture, work, and 
repose, I kept a strict guard upon myself, to escape 
penances, as well as to avoid sin: and the silence of the 
others convinced me that they were equally watchful 
from the same motives. 

My feelings, however, varied at different times, 
and so did those of many of my companions, excep- 
ting the elder ones, who took their turns in watching 
us. We sometimes felt disposed for gaiety, and threvi 
•ff all idea that talking was sinful, even when required 


by the rules of the Convent. I even, when I felt th*$ 
I might perhaps be doing wrong, reflected that con- 
fession, and penance, would soon wipe oil the guilt. 

But I soon found out several things important to be 
known to a person living under such rules. First, 
that it was better to confess to a priest a sin commit- 
ted against the rules, because he would not require 
the penance I most disliked, viz., those which exposed 
me to the observation of the nuns, or which demanded 
self-abasement before them, like begging their par- 
don, kissing the floor or the Superior's feet, &c, for, 
as a confessor he was bound to secrecy, and could 
not inform the Superior against me. My conscience 
being as effectually unburdened by my confession to 
the priest, I preferred not to tell my sins to anyone 
else: and this course was preferred by others for the 
same good reasons. To Jane Ray, however, it appear- 
ed to be a matter of indifference who knew her viola- 
tions of rule, and to what penance she exposed hex- 

Often while perfect silence prevailed among the nuns, 
at meditation, or while nothing was heard except the 
voice of the reader for the day, no matter whose life 
or writings were presented for our contemplation, 
Jane would break forth with some remark or ques- 
tion, that would attract general attention, and often 
cause a long and total interruption. Sometimes she 
would make some harmless remark ©r inquiry aloud, 
as if through mere inadvertency, and then her loud 
and well known voice, would arrest the attention of 
us all, and incline us to laugh. The Superior usually 
uttered a hasty remonstrance, or pronounced some 
penance upon her; but Jane had ever some apology 
ready, or some reply calculated to irritate more, or to 
prove that no punishment would be effectual on her. 
Sometimes she appeared to be actuated by oppoFite 
feelings and motives: for though she delighted in 
drawing other* into difficulty, and ris* thrown a*v«re 

J&AAiA MONK. 64 

penance* ujwu her favourites, on other occasions she 
was regardless of consequences herself, and preferred 
to take all the blame, to shield others. 1 have often 
known her to break silence in the community, as if 
she had no object beyond that of causing disturbance, 
or exciting a smile, and as soon as it was noticed, 
exclaim, f Say it's me, say it's me 1 " ! Sometimes she 
would expose herself to punishment in place of 
another who was guilty; and thus"!"* found it difficult 
to understand her. In some cases she seemed out of 
her wits, as the Superior and priests commonly repre- 
sented her; but generally I saw in her what prevented 
me from accounting her insane. 

Once she gave me the name of the " Devout English 
Header," because I was often appointed to read the 
lecture to the English girls; and sometimes, sitting 
near me under pretence of deafness, would whisper it 
in my bearing, for she knew my want of self-command 
when excited to laughter. Thus she often exposed 
me to penances for a breach of decorum, and set me 
to biting my lips, to avoid lahghing outright in the 
midst of a solemn lecture. " Oh ! you devout English 
reader ! " she would say, with something so ludicrous, 
that I had to exert myself to the utmost to avoid ob- 

This came so often at one time that I grew uneasy, 
and told her I must confess it, to unburden my con- 
science. Sometimes she would pass behind us as we 
stood at dinner ready to sit down, and softly moving 
back eur chairs, leaving us to fall down upon the floor, 
and while we were langhing together, she would spring 
forward, kneel to the Superior, and bog hex pardon 
end a penance. 




J MUST now come to a deed in which 1 had some 
part, and which I look back upon with great 
horror and pain. In it I was not the principal suf- 
ferer. It is not necessary to attempt to excuse myself 
in this or any other case. Those who judge fairly, 
wili make allowances for me, under the tear and force, 
the command and examples, before me. It was about 
five months after I took the veil, the weather was cool, 
perhaps in October. One day the Superior sent for me 
and several other nuns, to receive her commands. We 
found the Bishop and some priests with her; and 
speaking in tui unusual tone of fierceness and authority, 
she said, " Go to the room for the Examination of 
Conscience, and drag St. Frances up stairs." A com- 
mand so unusual, with her tone and manner, excited 
in me the most gloomy anticipations. It did not 
strike me as strange that St. Frances should be in 
the room to which the Superior directed us; an apart- 
ment to which we were often sent to prepare for the 
communion, and -to which we voluntarily went, when- 
ever we felt the compunctions which our ignorance 
of duty, and the misinstructions we received, inclined 
ss to seek relief from self-reproeeh. I had seen ber 
there a little before. What terrified me was, first, the 
Superior's angry manner; second, the expression she 
need, a French term, whose meaning is rather softened 
when translated into drag; third, the place to which ws 
"•re directed to take the interesting young nun. and $** 


pi?rsoni aa«eflibled there, as 1 Hupposed to condemn 
ht;r. II y fyars were such, concerning the fate that 
awaited her, and my horror at the idea that she waa 
in some way to be sacriiioed, that I would have given 
anything to be allowed to stay where I was. But I 
feared the effects of disobeying tho Superior, and 
proceeded with the rest towards the room for the ex- 
amination of conscience. 

The room was in tho socond story, and the place 
of many a scene of a shameful nature. It is suffi- 
cient to 6ay, that things had there occurred which 
made me regard the place with the greatest disgust. 
Saint Frances had appeared melancholy for some time. 
I knew that sh« had cause, for she had been repeatedly 
subject to triala which I need not name — our common 
lot. When we reached her room, I entered the door, 
my companions standing behind me, as the place was 
*o email a* hardly to hold five persons at a time. The 
young nun was standing alone, near the middle of the 
room; she was probably about twenty, with light hair, 
blue eyes, and a very fair complexion. I spoke to her 
in a compassionate voice, but with such a decided man- 
ner, that she comprehended my full meaning. " Saint 
Frances, we are wmt for you/' 

Several others spoke kindly to her, but two addressed 
her very harshly. The poor creature turned round with 
• look of meekness, and without expressing any unwill- 
ingness or fear, without even speaking a word, resigned 
herself to our hands. The tears came into my eyes. I 
had not a doubt thst she considered her fate was sealed, 
and was already beyond the fear of death. She was 
conducted to the staircase, and then seized by her limbs 
and clothes Rnd almost dragged up stairs. I laid my 
own hands upon he?? — I took hold of her, too, more 
gently, indeed, than some of the rest; yet I assisted 
them in carrying her \ could not avoid it. My re- 
fusal would not have saved her, nor prevented her 
taing carried up; it would only havo exposed mo to 

fy KA^LA VOF7K. 

some fl»v«rw punishment, as *oice of my companion* 
would aa\e complained of me. All the way up th« 
•taircase, Saint Frances spoke cot a word, nor made 
the slightest resistance. When we entered th« room 
to which she was ordered, raj heart sunk within mo. 
The Bishop, the Lady Superior, and fiv* priests, vi*.; 
Bonin, Richards, Savage, and two other*, were assem- 
bled for trial, on Borne charge of great importance. 

Father Richards questioned her, and she made ready, 
but calm replies. I cannot give a connected account of 
what ensued: my feelings were wrought up to such a 
pitch, that I knew not what I did. I was under a 
terrible apprehension that, if I betrayed my feelings I 
should fall under the displeasure of the cold-blooded 
persecutors of mj poor innocent sister; and this fear 
and the distress 1 felt for her, rendered me almost 
frantic. As eoon as I entered the room, 1 stepped 
into a corner, on the left of the entrance, where I 
might partially support myself by leaning against the 
wall. This support prevented me falling to the floor; 
for the confusion of my thoughts was so great, that only 
a few of the words I heard made any lasting impression 
upon me. I felt as if death would not have been more 
frightful to me. I am inclined to think that Father 
Richards wished to shield the poor prisoner from the 
severity of her fate, by drawing from her expressions 
that might bear a favourable construction. He asked 
her, among other things, if she was not now Rorry for 
what she had been overheard to say, (she had been 
betrayed in by a nun.) and if she would not prefer 
confinement in the cells to the punishment threatened. 
Bnt the Bishop soon interrupted him. and it was easy 
to perceive, that he was determined she should not 
escape. In reply to some of the questions she was 
silent; to other? T heard her reply that sri<» did not 
repent of the words she had uttered, though they had 
been neportM by some of the nun* who had heard 
thorn; that »he bad firmly r*«*olv«d to re*M "►very 

MA&1A MOWS. 68 

atwnipt t* cud; pel her to the commission of crime* 
which she detected. She added that she would rather 
die than cause the murder of harmless babes. "That 
u enough, finish her I " said the Bishop. 

Two nuns instantly fell upon her, and in obedience 
to directions, given by the Superior, prepared to exe- 
cute her sentence. She still maintained all the calm- 
ness and submission of a lamb. Some of those who 
took part in this transaction, I believe, were as un- 
willing as myself; but others delighted in it. Their 
conduct exhibited a most bloodthirsty spirit. But 
above all human fiends I ever saw, Saint Hypolite 
was the most diabolical ; she engaged in the horrid 
task with all alacrity, and assumed from choice the 
most revolting parts to be performed. She seized a 
gag, forced it into the mouth of the poor nun, and 
when it was fixed between her extended jaws, so as to 
keep them open at their greatest possible distance, took 
hold of the straps fastened at each end of the stick, 
crossed them behind the helpless head of the victim, 
and drew them tight through the loop prepared as a 

The bed which had always stood in one part of 
the room, still remained there ; though the muslin 
ecreen, which had been placed before it, with only a 
crevice through which a person behind might look out. 
had been folded up on its hinges in the form of a 
W., and placed in a corner. On the bed the prisoner 
was laid with her face upward, and then bound with 
cords so that she could not move. In an instant, 
another bed was thrown upon her. One of the priests, 
named Bonin, sprung like a fury first upon it, with 
all his force. He was speedily followed by the nuns, 
until there were as many upon the bed as could find 
room, and all did what they could, Tiot only to smother, 
but to bruise her Some stood up and jumped upon 
the poor girl with their feet, some with their knees: 
wid other*, in different wnv» *«emed to seek how 

Op uaria uoksu 

they might best beat the breath out of her body, and 
mangle it, without coming in direct contact with it, 
or seeing the effects of their violence. During this 
time my feelings were almost too strong to be endured. 
I felt stupefied, and scarcely was conscious of what I 
did. Still fear for myself induced me to some exer- 
tion; and I attempted to talk to those who stood next, 
partly that 1 might have an excuse for turning away 
from the dreadful scene. 

After the lapse of fifteen or twenty minutes, and 
when it was presumed that the sufferer had been 
smothered and crashed to death, Father Bonin and 
the nuns ceased to trample upon her, and stepped from 
the bed. All was motionless and silent beneath it. 
They then began to laugh at such inhuman thoughts 
as occurred to some of them, rallying each other in 
the most unfeeling manner, and ridiculing me for feel- 
ings which I in vain endeavoured to conceal. They 
alluded to the resignation of our murdered companion; 
and one of them tauntingly said, " She would have 
made a good Catholic martyr." Then one of them 
asked if the corpse should be removed. The Superior 
said it had better remain a little while. After waiting 
a short time, the feather-bed was taken off, the cords 
unloosed, and the body taken by the nuns and drag- 
ged down stairs into the cellar, and thrown into the 
hole which I have already described, covered with a 
great quantity of lime; and afterwards sprinkled with 
a liquid, of the properties and name of which I am 
ignorant. This liquid I have seen poured into the hole 
from large bottles, after the necks were broken off; 
and have heard that it is used in France to prevent the 
effluvia rising from cemeteries. 

I did not soon recover from the shock caused by 
this scene; it still recurs to me, with most gloomy im- 
pressions. The next day there was a melancholy aspect 
ovct everything, and recreation time passed in the 
dullest manner; scarcely anything wa« said nhove a 


vhinpat. I never heard much said afterwards about 
Saint .France*. 

1 spoke with ono of the nuns a few words, one day, 
but we were all cautioned not to expose ourselves 
Tery far, and could not place much reliance in each 
other. The murdered nun had been brought to her 
shocking end through the treachery of one of our 
number in whom she confided. I never knew with 
certainty who had reported her remarks to the Supe- 
rior, but suspicion fastened on one, and I never could 
regard her but with detestation. I was more inclined 
to blame her than 6ome of those employed in the ex- 
ecution ; for there could have been no necessity for the 
betrayal of her feelings. 

"I was often sent by the Superior to overhear what 
was said by novices and nuns, when they seemed to 
shun her: she would say, "Go and listen, they are 
speaking English •*' and though I obeyed her, I never 
informed her against them. If I wished to clear my 
conscience, I would go to a priest and confess, know- 
ing that he dared not communicate what I said to any 
person, and that he would not choose as heavy penances 
as the Superior. 

We were allowed to choose another confessor when 
we had any sin to confess, which we were unwilling 
to tell one to whom we should otherwise have done. 
Not long after the murder a young woman came to the 
nunnery, and asked for permission to see 'Saint Frances. 
It was my former friend, with whom I had been an 
assistant teacher, Miss Louisa Bousquet, of St. Denis. 
From this I supposed tho murdered nun might have 
come from that town, or its vicinity. The only an- 
swer was, that St. Frances was dead. Afterwards 
some of St. Frances* friends called to inquire after her, 
and they were told that she died a glorious death, and 
had made some heavenly expressions, which were re- 
peated in order to satisfy her friends. 





THE pictures in the room of the three State* were 
large, and painted by an artist who knew how to 
make horrible ones. They appeared to be stuck to the 
walla. The light ie admitted from small high windows, 
curtained, so as to make everything look gloomy. They 
ty>Id us that they were painted by an artist, to whom 
God had given power to represent things exactly as 
they appeared in heaven, hell, and purgatory. 

In heaven, the picture of which hangs* on one side 
of the apartment, multitudes of nuns and priests are 
put in the highest places, with the Virgin Mary at their 
head, St. Peter and other saints, far above trie great 
numbers of good Catholic* of other classes, who are 
crowded in below. 

In purgatory are multitudes of people; and in one 
part, called " The place of larribs," are infants who died 
unbaptired. " Tht place cf darkness" is that part of 
purgatory in which adults are collected, there they are 
surrounded by flames, waiting to be delivered by the 
prayers of the living. 

In the picture of hell the faces were the most hor- 
rible that can be imagined. Persons of different de- 
scriptions were represented, with the most distorted 
features, ghastly complexions, and every variety of 
dreadful expression: some with wild beasts gnawing at 
their heads, others furiously biting the iron bars which 
kept them in, with looks which could not fail to make a 
spectator shudder. 

I could hardly peraus>d# myself tiiti the figure* 

MAXIA movx y* 

were not living, and the impression they made on my 
feelings was powerful. 1 v:i« often shown the place 
where nuns go who break their vows, as a warning. It 
is the hottest place in hell, and worse than that to 
which Protestants are assigned; becautio they are not 
so much to be blamed, as we were assured, as their 
ministers and the Bible, by which they are perverted. 
Whenever 1 was shut in that room, a? I was several 
times, 1 prayed for " les Ames des fideles trespasses ;" 
the souls of those faithful ones who have long been in 
purgatory, and have no relation living to pray for them. 
My feelings were of the most painful description, while 
I was alone with those frightful pictures. 

Jane Ray was once put in and uttered the most 
dreadful shrieks. Some of the old nuns proposed to 
the Superior to have her gagged ; " No," she replied, 
" go and let out that devil, she makes me sin more 
than all the rest." Jane could not endure the place; 
and she gave names to many of the worst figures in 
the pictures. On catechism days she took a seat be- 
hind a cupboard door where the priest could not see 
her, while she faced the nuns, and would make ua 

" You are not so attentive to your lesson as you 
used to be," he would say, while we tried to suppress 
our laughter. 

Jane would then hold up the first letter of some 
priest's name whom she had before compared with one 
of the faces in " hell," and so look that we could hardly 
preserve our gravity. I remember she named the 
wretch who was biting at the bars of hell, with a ser- 
pent gnawing his head, with chains and padlocks on, 
Father Dufresne; and she would say — 

" Does he not look like him, when he comes in to 
catechism with his long solemn face, and begins his 
speeches with, ' My children, my hope is that you have 
lived very devout lives V" 

The first time J went to confession after taking the 



veil. T found abundant evidence that the priests did not 
treat even that ceremony, which is called a solemn 
sacrament, with respect enough to lay aside the shame- 
less character they so often showed on other occasions. 
The confessor sometimes sat in the room for the exam- 
ination of conscience, and sometimes in the Superior's 
room, and altroys alone except the nun who was con- 
fessing. He had a common chair placed in the middle 
of the floor, and instead of being placed behind a grate, 
or lattice, as in the chapel, had nothing before or 
around him. 

A number of nuns usually confessed on the same 
day, but only one could be admitted into the room at a 
time. They took their places just without the door, on 
their knees, and went through the preparation pre- 
scribed by the rules of confession; repeating certain 
prayers, which occupy a considerable time. When one 
was ready, she rose from her knees, entered, and closed 
the door behind her; and no one dared touch the latch 
until she came out. 

I shall not tell what was transacted at such times, 
under the pretence of confessing, and receiving absolu- 
tion from sin; far more sin was often incurred than 
pardon ; and crimes of a deep dye were committed, 
while trifling irregularities in childish ceremonies, were 
treated as serious offences. I cannot persuade myself 
to speak plainly on such a subject, as I must offend the 
virtuous ear. I can only say, that suspicion cannot do 
any injustice to the priests, because their sins cannot be 

Some idea may be formed of the manner in which 
even such women ns many »f my sister nuns, re- 
garded the father confessors, when I state that there 
was often a contest among us, to avoid entering the 
apartment an long as we could; endeavouring to make 
each other go first, as that was what most of us 

During the long and tediou* day» which fil-'ed n$ 


the time between the occurrence* 1 have mentioned, 
nothing or little took place to keep up our spirit*. W« 
were fatigued in body with labour, or with sitting, 
debilitated by the long continuance of our religious 
exercises, and depressed in feelings by our miserable 
and hopeless condition. Nothing but the humours of 
mad .Tana Ray could rouse us for a moment from our 
languor and melancholy. 

To mention all her devices, would require more room 
than is he.e allowed, and a memory of almost all her 
words and actions for years. 1 had early become a 
favourite with her, and had opportunity to learn more 
of her character than most of the other nuns. As this 
may be learned from hearing what she did, I will 
here recount a few of her tricks, just as they happen 
to present themselves to my memory, without regard to 
the order of time. 

She one day, in an unaccountable humour, sprinkled 
the floor plentifully with holy water, which brought 
upon bcr a severe lecture from the Superior, as might 
have been expected. The Superior paid it was a hein- 
ous offence: she had wasted holy water enough to save 
many souls from purgatory: and what would they not 
give for it I She then ordered Jane to sit in the middle 
of the floor, and when the priest came, he was informed 
of her offence. Instead, however, of imposing one of 
those penances to which she had been subjected, but 
with so little effect, he said to her, — 

" Go to your place, Jane ; we forgive you this time.'* 

I was once set to iron aprons with Jane; aprons and 
pocket handkerchiefs are the only articles of dress 
which are ever ironed in the Convent. As soon as we 
were alone, she remarked: 

" Well, we are free from the rules, while we are at 
this work;" and, although she knew she had no reason 
for saying so, she began to sing, and I soon joined 
her, and thus we spent the time, while we were at 


work, to the neglect of the prayers we ought to hare 

We had no idea tliat we were in danger of being 
overheard, but it happened that the Superior was over- 
head all the time, with several nuns, who were prepar- 
ing for confession; she came down and said — 

"How is this ?" 

Jane Ray coolly replied that we had employed our 
time in singing hymns, and referred to me. I was 
afraid to confirm so direct a falsehood, in order to de- 
ceive the Superior, though I had often told more in- 
jurious ones of her fabrication, or at. her orders, and 
said very little in reply to Jane's request. 

The Superior plainly saw the trick that was attempt- 
ed, and ordered us both to the room for the examina- 
tion of conscience, where we remained till night, with- 
out a mouthful to eat. The time was not, however, 
unoccupied; I received such a lecture from Jane as 
I have very seldom heard, and she was so angry 
with me, that we did not speak to each other for two 

At length she found something to complain of 
against me, had me subjected to a penance, which led 
to our begging each other's pardon, and we became 
perfectly satisfied, reconciled, and as good friends as 

One of the most disgusting penances we had ever to 
submit to, was that of drinking the water in which the 
Superior had washed her feet. Nobody could ever 
laugh at this, penance except Jane Ray. She would 
pretend to comfort us, by saying she was sure it was 
better than mere plain clear water. 

Some of the tricks which I remember, were played 
by Jane with nuns' clothes. It was a rule that the old- 
est aprons in use should go to the youngest received, 
and that the old nuns were to wear all the new ones. 
On four different occasions. Jane stole into the sleeping 
Toom At niffht, an<i! unobserved by the wsteh. c^an^edl 


ft great part of the aprons, placing them by the beds of 
nuns to whom they did not belong. The consequence 
was, that in the morning they dressed themselves in 
iueh haste, as never to discover the mistake they made, 
until they were all ranged at prayers ; and then the 
ridiculous appearance which many of them cut, dis- 
turbed the long devotions. I laugh so easy that, on 
such occasions, I usually incurred a full share of 
penances. I generally, however, got a new apron, when 
Jane played this trick; for it was part of her object to 
give the best aprons to her favourites, and put off the 
ragged ones on some of the old nuns whom she most 

Jane once lost her pocket-handkerchief. The pen- 
ance for such an offence is, to go without any for five 
weeks. For this she had no relish, and requested me 
to pick one from some of the nuns on the way up 
stairs. I succeeded in getting two; this Jane said waa 
one too many, and she thought it dangerous for either 
of us to keep it, lest a search should be made. Very 
soon the two nuns were complaining that they had lost 
their handkerchiefs, and wondering what could have 
become of them, as they were sure they had been 
careful. Jane seized an opportunity, and slipped one 
into a' straw bed, where it remained until the bed waa 
emptied to be filled with new Btraw. 

As the winter was coming on, one year, she com- 
plained to me that we were not as well supplied with 
warm night-clothes, as two of the nuns she named, 
whom she said she " abominated.*' She soon after 
found means to get possession of their fine warm flannel 
night-gowns, one of which she gave to me. while the 
other was put on at bedtime. She presumed the 
owners would have a secret search for them; and in 
the morning hid them in the stove, after the fire had 
gone out, which was kindled a little before the hour of 
rising, and then suffered to burn down. 

This she did evsry morning, taking them out at 


night through the winter. The poor nuns who owned 
the garments were afraid to complain of their loss, lest 
they should have come penance laid on them, and 
nothing was ever said about them. When the weather 
began to grow warm in the spring, Jane returned the 
night gowns to the beds of the nuns from whom she 
had borrowed them, and they were probably as much 
surprised to find them again, as they had been before 
at losing them. 

Jane once found an opportunity to fill her apron with 
a quantity of fine apples called fameuses, which came 
in her way, and hastening up to the sleeping room, hid 
thein under my bed. Then coming down, she informed 
me, and we agreed to apply for leave to make our 
elevens, as it is called. The meaning of this is, to 
repeat a certain round of prayers, for nine days in 
succession, to some saint we choose to address for as- 
sistance in becoming more charitable, affectionate, or 
something else. We easily obtained permission, and 
hastened upstairs to begin our nine days' feast on the 
apples; when, much to our surprise, they had all been 
taken away, and there was no way to avoid the dis- 
agreeable fate we had brought upon ourselves. Jane, 
therefore, began to search the beds of the other nuns: 
but not finding any trace of the apples, she became 
doubly vexed, and stuck pins in those that belonged to 
her enemies. 

When bedtime came, they were much scratched in 
getting into bed. which made them break silence, a*4 
that subjected them to penances. 



ONE night Jane, who had been sweeping the sleep- 
ing room for a penance, dressed up the broom- 
stock, when she had completed her work, with a white 
cloth on the end, so tied as to resemble an old woman 
dressed in white, with long arms sticking out. This 
she stuck through a broken pane of glass, and placed it 
60 that it appeared to be looking in at the window, by 
the font of holy water. There it remained till the nuns 
came up to bed. The first who stopped at the font, to 
dip the finger in, caught a glimpse of the singular 
object, and started with terror. The next was equally 
terrified, as she approached, and the next, and the 

We all believed in ghosts; and it was not wonderful 
that such an object should cause alarm, especially as it 
was but a short time after the death of one of the nuns. 
Thus they went on, each getting a fright in turn, yet all 
afraid to speak. At length, one more alarmed, or with 
less presence of mind than the rest, exclaimed, " Oh, 
mon Dieu ! je ne me coucherais pas I " When the night 
watch called out " Who's that ? " 6he confessed she had 
broken silence, but pointed to the cause; and when all 
the nuns assembled at a distance from the window, 
Jane offered to advance boldly, and ascertain the 
nature of the apparition, which they thought a most 
resolute intention. We all stood looking on, when she 
stepped to the window, drew in the broomstick, and 
showed us the ridiculous puppet which had alarmed so 
many superstitious fears. 


Some of her greatest feats she performed as a sleep- 
walker. Whether she ever walked in her sleep or not, 
1 am unable, with certainty to say. She, however, of- 
ten imposed upon the Superior, arid old nuns, by mak- 
ing them think so, when I knew she did not ; and yet I 
cannot positively sav that she always did. I have 
remarked that one of the old nuns sea* always placed 
in our sleeping-room at night, to watch us. Sometimes 
she would be inattentive, and sometimes fall into a 
dose. Jane Ray often seized such times to rise from 
her bed, and walk about, occasionally seizing one of 
the nuns in bed, in order to frighten her. This she 
generally effected; and many times we have been 
awakened hj screams of terror. In our alarm some of 
us frequently broke silence and gave occasion to the 
Superior to lay us under penances. Many times, how- 
ever, we escaped with a mere reprimand, while Jane 
usually received expressions of compassion : " Poor 
creature; she would not do so if she were in perfect 
possession of her reason." And Jane displayed her 
customary artfulness, in keeping up the false impres- 
sion. As soon as she perceived that the old nun was 
likely to observe her, she would throw her arms about, 
or appear unconscious of what she was doing; falling 
upon a bed, or standing stock-still, until exertions had 
been made to rouse her from her supposed lethargy. 

We were once allowed to drink cider at dinner, 
which was quite an extraordinary favour. Jane, how- 
ever, on account of her negligence of all work, was 
denied the privilege, which she much resented. The 
next day, when dinner arrived, we began to taste our 
new drink, but it was so salt we could not swallow it 
Those of us who first discovered it, were as usual afraid 
to speak ; but we set down our cups, and looked around, 
till the others made the same discovery, which they all 
soon did, and most of them in the same manner. Some 
however, at length, taken by surprise, uttered some 
ludicrouB exclamation on tasting the salted cider, and 


then an old nun, looking across, would cry out — 

"Ah! tu easses la Bilence." (Ah I you've broken 

And thus we soon got a-laugbing beyond our power 
of supporting it. At recreation that day, the first 
question asked by many of us was, " How did you like 
your cider V* 

Jane Kay never had a fixed place to sleep in. When 
the weather began to grow warm in the spring, she 
usually pushed some bed out of its place, near a win- 
dow, and put her own beside it; and when the winter 
approached, she would choose a 6pot near the stove, 
and occupy it with her bed, in spite of all remonstrance. 
We were all convinced that it was generally best to 
yield to her. 

She was often set to work in different ways: but, 
whenever she was dissatisfied with doing anything 
would devise some trick that would make the Superior 
or old nuns drive her off; and whenever any suspicion 
was expressed of her being in her right mind, she would 
say that she did not know what she was doing; and all 
the difficulty arose from her repeating prayers too 
much, which wearied and distracted her mind. 

I was once directed to assist Jane Eay in shifting the 
beds of the nuns. When we came to those of some of 
the sisters whom she most disliked, she said, now we 
will pay them for some of the penances we have 
suffered on their account; and taking some thistles she 
mixed them with the straw. At night, the first of them 
that got into bed felt the thistles, and cried out. The 
night-watch exclaimed, as usual, "you are breaking 
silence there." And then another screamed as she was 
scratched by the thistles, and another. The old nun 
then called on all who had broken silence to rise, and 
ordered them to sleep under their beds as a penance, 
which they silently complied with. Jane and I after- 
wards confessed, when it was all over, and took eomn 
trifling penance which the priest impcse4- 


Thoae nuna who fell most under the displeasure of 
mad Jane Ray, as I have intimated before, were those 
who had the reputation of being most ready to inform 
of the most trifling faults of others, and especially those 
who acted without any regard to honour, by disclosing 
what they had pretended to listen to in coniidenee. 
Several of the worst-tempered " saints " she held in 
abhorrence; and I have heard her say, that such and 
such she abominated. Many a trick did she play upon 
these, some of which were painful to them in their con- 
sequences, and a good number of them have never been 
traced to this day. 

Of all the nuns, however, none other was regarded 
by her with so much detestation as St. Hypolite; for 
she was always believed to have betrayed St Frances, 
<md to have caused her murder. She was looked upon 
by us as the voluntary cause of her death, and of the 
crime which those of us committed, who unwillingly, 
took part in her execution. We, on the contrary, being 
under the worst of fears for ourselves, in case of 
refusing to obey our masters and mistress, thought 
ourselves chargeable with less guilt, as unwilling assist- 
ants in a scene which it was impossible for us to pre- 
vent or delay. Jane has often spokeu with me of the 
suspected informer, and always in terms of the greatest 

The Superior sometimes expressed commiseration 
for mad Jane Ray, but I never could tell whether she 
really believed her insane or not. I was always inclined 
to think, that she was willing to put4ip with some of 
her tricks, because they served to divert our minds from 
the painful and depressing circumstances in which we 
were placed. T knew the Superior's powers and habits 
of deception also, and that she would deceive us as 
willingly as any one else. 

Sometimes she proposed to send Jane to St. Anne's, 
« place near Quebec, celebrated for the pilgrirafigt* 


posed that pome peculiar virtue exists there, which will 
made to it by persons differently anhcted. It is esp- 
restore health to the hick, and I have heard stories teld 
in corroboration of the common belief. Many lame and 
blind persous, with others, visit St Anne's every year, 
some of whom may be seen travelling on foot, and beg- 
ging their food. The Superior would sometimes say 
that it was a pity that a woman like Jane Ray, capabU 
of being so useful, should be unable to do her duties, in 
consequence of a malady which she thought might be 
cured by a visit to St. Anne's. 

Yet to St. Anne's Jane was never sent, and her wild 
and various tricks continued as before. The rules of 
silence, which the othes*s were so scrupulous in observ- 
ing, she Bet at nought every hour ; and as for other 
rules, she regarded them with as little respect when they 
stood in her way. She would now and then step out 
and stop the clock by which our exercises were regu- 
lated, and sometimes in this manner lengthened out our 
recreation till near twelve. At last the old nuns began 
to watch against such a trick, and would occasionally 
go out to pee if the clock was going. 

She once made a request that she might not eat with 
the other nuns, which was granted, as it seemed to pro- 
ceed from a spirit of genuine humility, which made her 
regard herself as unworthy of our society. 

It being most convenient, she was sent to the 
Superior's table, to make her meals after her; and it 
did not at first occur to the Superior that Jane, in this 
manner, profited by the change, by getting much better 
food than the rest of us. Thus there seemed to be al- 
ways something deeper than anybody at first suspected 
at the bottom of everything she did. 

She was once directed to sweep a community-room, 
under the sleeping-chamber. This office had before 
been assigned to the other nuns, as 8 penance; but the 
8np«rk>r, considering that Jane Ray did little or Both- 


ing, determined thus to furnish her with some employ- 

She declared to u* that ghe would not sweep it long, 
m we might soon be assured. It happened that the 
stove by which the community-room was warmed in the 
winter, had its pipe carried through the tioor of our 
sleeping chamber, and thence across it in the direction 
opposite that in which the pipe of our stove was carried, 
it being then warm weather, the hole was left un- 
stopped. After we had all retired to our beds, and 
while engaged in our silent prayers, we were suddenly 
alarmed by a bright blaze of fire, which burst from the 
hole in the floor, and threw sparks all around us. We 
thought the building was burning, and uttered cries of 
terror, regardless of the penances, the fear of which 
generally kept us silent 

The utmost confusion prevailed; for although we had 
solemnly vowed never to flee from the Convent even if 
it was on fire, we were extremely alarmed, and could 
not repress our feelings. We soon learnt the cause, for 
the flames ceased in a moment or two, and it was found 
that mad Jane, after sweeping a little in the room be- 
neath, had struck a quantity of wet powder on the end 
of her broom, thrust it up through the hole in the 
ceiling into our apartment, and with a lighted paper 
set it on fire. 

The date of this alarm I must refer to a time soon 
after that of the election riot* ; for I recollect that 
she found means to get possession of some of the 
powder which was prepared at that time for an emer- 
gency to which some thought that the Convent was 

She once asked for pen and paper, and then the 
Superior told her If she wrote to her friends she must 
see it. She replied that it was for no such purpose; 
sh« wanted to write her confession, and thus make it 
once for all. She wrote it, handed it to the priest, and 


be gate it to the Superior, who read it to ua. It wa* 
full of offences which 6he had never committed, evi- 
dently written to throw ridicule on confessions, and 
one of the most ludicrous productions I ever saw. 

Our bedsteads were made with very narrow bcarda 
laid across them, on which the beds were laid. One 
day, while we were in the bedchambers together, she 
proposed that we should misplace these boards. This 
was done, so that at night nearly a dozen nuns fell 
down upon the floor on getting into bed. A good deal 
of confusion naturally ensued, but the authors were not 
discovered. I was so conscience-stricken, however, that 
a week afterwards, while we were examining our con- 
sciences together, I told her I must confess the sin the 
next day. She replied, — 

" Do as you like, but you will be sorry for it." 

The next day. when we came before the Superior, I 
was just going to kneel and confess, when Jane, almost 
without giving me time to shut the door, threw herself 
at the Superior's feet and confessed the trick, and a 
penance was immediately laid upon me for the sin I 
Lad concealed. 

There was an old nun who was a famous talker, whom 
we used to call La Mere (Mother). One night, Jane 
Bay got up, and secretly changed the caps of several of 
the nuns; and hers among the rest. In the morning 
there was great confusion, and such a scene seldom 
occurred. She was severely blamed by La Mere, having 
been informed against by some of the nuns: and at last 
became so much enraged, that she attacked the old 
woman, and even took her by the throat. La Mere 
called on all present to come to her assistance, and 
several nuns interfered. Jane seized the opportunity 
afforded in the confusion, to beat some of her worvt 
enemies quite severely, and then afterwards said that 
■he had intended to kill some of the rascally informers. 

For a time Jane made us laugh so much at prsyers. 


that the Superior forbade her going down with us at 
morning prayers; and she took the opportunity to 
Bleep in the morning. When this was found out, she 
was forbidden to get into her bed again after leaving it, 
and then she would creep under it and take a nap on 
the floor. This she told us of one day, but threatened 
xlh if we ever betrayed her. At length she was missed 
at breakfast, as she would sometimes oversleep herself, 
and the Superior began to be more strict, and always 
inquired, in the morning, whether Jane Ray was in her 

When the question was general none of us answered; 
but when it was addressed to some nun near her by 
name, as, — 

" Saint Eustace, is Jane Ray in her place ? " then 
we had to reply. 

Of all the scenes that occurred during my stay in the 
Convent, there was none which excited the delight of 
Jane more than one which took place in the chapel one 
day at mass, though I never had any particular reason 
to suppose that she had brought it about. 

Some person unknown to me to this day had put 
some substance or other, of a most nauseous smell, 
into the hat of a little boy, who attended at the altar, 
and he, without observing the trick, put it upon his 
head. In the midst of the ceremonies he approached 
some of the nuns, who were almost suffocated with 
the odour; and as he occasionally moved from place to 
place, 6ome of them began to beckon to him to stand 
further off and to hold their noses, with looks of disgust. 
The boy was quite unconscious of the cause of the 
difficulty, and paid them no attention, but the confu- 
sion soon became so great through the distress of some, 
and the laughing of others, that the Superior noticed 
the circumstance, and beckoned to the boy to withdraw. 

All attempts, however, to engage us in any work, 
prayer, or meditation, were found ineffectual Whf»n- 

ma*; A UOHTK. 96 

ever the circumstances in the chapel came to raind, w 
would laugh out. We had got into such a atute, th&t 
we could not easily restrain ourselves. The Superior, 
yielding to necessity, allowed us recreation for the 
whole day. 

The Superior used sometimes to send Jane to in- 
struct the novices in their English prayers. She would 
proceed to the task with all seriousness; but sometimes 
chose the most ridiculous, as well as irreverent passages 
from the songs, and other things, which she had some- 
times learned, which would set us, who understood her, 
laughing. One of her rhymes, I recollect, begr.n with — 

* The Lord of love — look from above, 
Upon this turkey hen I " 

Jane for a time slept opposite me, and often in the 
night would rise, unobserved, and slip into my bed, to 
talk with me, which she did in a low whisper, and re- 
turn again with equal caution. 

She would tell me of the tricks she had played, and 
inch as she meditated, and sometimes make me laugh 
so loud, that I had much to do in the morning with 
begging pardon* and doing penances. 

One winter's day she was sent to light a fire; but 
after she had done so, remarked privately to some of 
us, " my fingers were so cold — you'll see if I do it 

The next day there was a great stir in the house, 
because it was said that mad Jane Ray had been seized 
with a fit while making a fire, and she was taken up 
apparently insensible, and conveyed to her bed. She 
complained to me, who visited her in the course of the 
day, that she was likely to starve, ap food was denied 
her; and I was persuaded to pin a stocking under my 
dress, and secretly put food into it from the table. 
This I afterwards carried to her, and relieved her wants. 

One of the things which I had blamed J&ne tuo*t ioi 


was a disposition to quarrel with an/ nun wno seemed 
to be winning the favor of the Superior. She would 
never rest until she had brought such a one into some 

We were allowed but little soap; and Jane, when she 
fouDd her supply nearly gone, would take the first piece 
she could find. One day there was a general search 
made for a large piece that was missed; when, soon 
after I had been searched, Jane Eaj passed me, and 
slipped it into my pocket; she soon after was searched 
herself, and then secretly came for it again. 

While I recall these particulars of our Nunnery, and 
refer so often to the conduct and language of one of the 
nuns, 1 cannot speak of some things which I believed or 
suspected, on account of my want of sufficient know- 
ledge. But it is a pity you have not Jane Ray for 
a witness : she knew many thingB of which I am 
ignorant She must be in possession of facts that 
should be known. Her long residence in the Convent, 
her habits of roaming about it, and of observing every- 
thing, must have made her acquainted with things 
which would be heard with interest. I always felt as if 
she knew everything. She would often go and listen, 
or look through the cracks into the Superior's room, 
while any of the priests were closeted with her, and 
sometimes would come and tell me what she -witnessed. 
I felt myself bound to confess on such occasions, and 
always did so. 

She knew, however, that I only told it to the priest or 
to the Superior, and without mentioning the name of 
my informant, which I was at liberty to withhold, so 
that she was not found out. I often said to her, " Don't 
tell me, Jane, for I must confess it." She would reply, 
" It is better for you to confess it than for me." I thus 
became, even against my will, informed of scenes sup- 
posed by the actors of them to be secret. 

Jane Bay once persuaded me to accompany her into 
the Superior's room, to hide with her under the *ofa, 


an! await the appearance of a visitor whom she 
expected, that we might over-hear what passed between 
them. We had been long concealed, when the Superior 
came in alone, and sat for some time; when, fearing she 
might detect us in the stillness which prevailed, we 
began to repent of our temerity. At length, however, 
she suddenly withdrew, and thus afforded us a welcome 
opportunity to escape. 

I was passing one day through a part of the cellar, 
where I had not often occasion to go, when the toe of 
my shoe hit something. I tripped and fell down, I rose 
again, and holding my lamp to see what had caused 
my fall, I found an iron ring, fastened to a small square 
trap door. This I had the curiosity to rise, and saw 
four or five steps down, but there was not light enough 
to see more, and I feared to be noticed by somebody 
and reported to the Superior; so, closing the door 
again, I left the spot. At first I could not imagine the 
use of such a passage ; but it afterwards occurred to me 
that it might open to the subterranean passage to the 
Seminary; for I never could before account for the 
appearance of many of the priests, who often appeared 
and disappeared among us, particularly at night, when 
I knew the gates were closed. They could, as I now 
saw, come up to the door of the Superior's room at any 
hour; then up the stairs into our sleeping-room, or 
where they chose. And often they were in our beds 
before as. 

I afterwards ascertained that my conjectures were 
correct, and that a secret communication was kept up 
in this manner between these two institutions, at the 
end towards Notre Dame street, at a considerable depth 
under ground. I often afterwards met priests in the 
cellar, when eent there for coals and other articles, as 
they had to pa*e np and down the common cellar stairs 
on their way. 

My w«nrisome daily prayerB and labours, my paia of 
body and depression of mind, which wnr*» so much 


increased by penances I have suffered, and those which 
I constantly feared, and the feelings of shame, remorse, 
and horror, which sometimes arose, brought me to a 
state which I cannot describe. 

In the first place, my frame was enfeebled by the 
uneasy postures I was required to keep for so long a 
time during prayers. This alone, I thought, was suffi- 
cient to undermine my health and destroy my life. An 
hour and a half every morning I had to sit on the floor 
of the community-room, with my feet under me, my 
body bent forward, and my head hanging on one side, 
in a posture expressive of great humility, it is true, but 
very fatiguing to keep for such an unreasonable length 
of time. Often I found it impossible to avoid falling 
asleep in this posture which I could do without detec- 
tion, by bending a little lower than usual. The signal 
to rise, or the noise made by the rising of the other 
nuns, then woke me, and I got up with the rest un- 

Before we took the posture just described we had to 
kneel for a long time without bending the body, keep- 
ing quite erect, with the exception of the knees only, 
with the hands together before the breast. Thig I 
found the most distressing attitude for me, and never 
assumed it without feeling a sharp pain in my chest, 
which I often thought would soon lead me to my grave 
— that is, to the great common receptacle for the dead 
under the chapel. And this upright kneeling posture 
we were obliged to resume as soon as we rose from the 
half-sitting posture first mentioned, so that I usually 
felt myself exhausted and near to fainting before the 
conclusion of the morning services. 

I found the meditations extremely tedious, and often 
did I sink into sleep, while we were all seated in silence 
on the floor. When required to tell my meditations, as 
it was thought to be of no great importance what we 
said, I sometimes found T had nothing to tell hut a 
droaxn. and told that, wh>h Dfi-iaed off v*ry *e«l. 


Jan* Bay appeared to be troubled still more than 
mybelf with wandering thoughts; and when blamed 
for them, would reply, " I begin very well ; but directly 
I begin to think of some old friend of mine, and my 
thoughts go a-wandering from one country to another." 

Sometimes 1 confessed my falling asleep; and often 
the priests have talked to me about the sin of sleeping 
in the time of meditation. At last, one of them pro- 
posed to me to prick myself with a pin, which is often 
done, and bo rouse myself for a time. 

My close confinement in the Convent, and the waoft 
of opportunities to breathe the open air, might have 
proved more injurious to me than they did, had I not 
been employed a paH of my time in more active 
labours than those of sewing, &c., to which 1 waa 
chiefly confined. I took part occasionally in some of 
the heavy work, as washing, &c 

The events which 1 am now to relate occurred 
about five months after my admission into the Convent 
as a nun ; but I cannot fix the time with precision, as I 
knew not of anything that took place in the world 
about the same period. The circumstances 1 clearly 
remember; but as I have elsewhere remarked, we were 
not accustomed to keep any account of time. 

Information was given to us one day, that another 
novice was to be admitted among us; and we were 
required to remember and mention her often in our 
prayers, that she might have faithfulness in the service 
of ber holy spouse. No information was given us con- 
cerning her beyond this fact ; not a word about her age, 
name, or nation. On all similar occasions the same 
course was pursued, and all that the nuns ever learnt 
concerning one another was what they might discover 
by being together, and which usually amounted to little 
or nothing. 

When the day of her admission arrived, though I did 
not witness the ceremony in the chapel, it was a gratifi- 


cation to u» kll on one account, because we were ahvayi 
released from labour, and enjoyed a great recreation 

Our new sister, when she was introduced to the 
" holy " society of us " saints," proved to be youug, of 
about the middle siae, and very good looking for a 
Canadian: for I soon ascertained that she was one of 
my own countrywomen. The Canadian females are 
generally not handsome. I never learnt her name nor 
anything of her history. She had chosen St Martin 
for her nun name. She was admitted in the morning, 
and appeared melancholy all day. This I observed 
was always the case; and the remarks made by others, 
led me to believe that they, and all they had seen, 
had felt sad and miserable for a longer or shorter 
time. Even the Superior, as it may be recollected, 
confessed to me that she experienced the same feelings 
when she was received. When bed- time arrived, she 
proceeded to the chamber with the rest of us, and was 
assigned a bed on the side of the room opposite my 
own, and a little beyond. The nuns were all soon in 
bed, the usual silence ensued, and I was making my 
customary mental prayer, and composing myself to 
sleep, when I heard the most piercing and heart-rend- 
ing shrieks proceed from our new comrade. Every nun 
seemed to rise as if by one impulse, for no one could 
hear such sounds, especially in such total silence, with- 
out being greatly excited. A general noise succeeded, 
for many voices spoke together, uttering cries of sur- 
prise, compassion or fear. It was in vain for the night- 
watch to expect silence; for once we forgot rules and 
gave vent to our feelings, and she could do nothing 
but call for the Superior. 

I heard a man's voice mingled with the cries and 
shrieks of the nun. Father Quihlier, of the Seminary, 
I had felt confident, was in the Superior's room at the 
time when ire retired; and several of the nuns after- 


vr»ro*a augured me that it was he. The Superior soon 
made her appearance, and in a harsh manner com- 
manded silence. I heard her threaten gagging her, 
and then say, " You are no better than anybody else, 
and if you do not obey, you shall be sent to the cells." 

One young girl was taken into the Convent during 
my abode there, under peculiar circumstances. I was 
acquainted with the whole affair, as I was employed 
to act a part in it 

Among the novices was a young lady, of about 
seventeen, the daughter of an old rich Canadian. She 
had been remarkable for nothing that I know of, ex- 
cept the liveliness of her disposition. The Superior 
once expressed to m a wish to have her take the 
veil, though the girl herself had never any intention 
that I know of. Why the Superior wished to receive 
her I could only conjecture. One reason might have 
been, that she expected to receive a considerable sum 
from her father. She was, however, strongly desirous 
of having the girl in our community, and one day 6aid 
i — '* Ix;t us take her in by a trick, and tell the old man 
she felt too humble to take the veil in public/' 

Our plans then being laid, the unsuspecting girl 
was induced by us, in sport, as we told her and made 
her believe, to put on such a splendid robe as I had 
worn on my admission, and pass through some of the 
ceremonies of taking the veil. After this she was 
seriously informed that she was considered as having 
entered the Convent in earnest, and must henceforth 
bury herself to the world, as she would never be allowed 
to leave it. We put her on a nun's dress, though she 
wept, and refused, and expressed the greatest repug- 
nance. The Superior threatened and promised, ani 
flattered by turns, until the poor girl had to submit; 
but her appearance long showed that she was a nun 
only by compulsion. 

In obedience t» the directions of the Superior w* 

93 JKARIA wont. 

exerted ourselves to make her contented, especially 
when she was first received, when we got round her 
and told her we had felt so for a time, hut having 
since become acquainted with the happiness of nun's 
life, were perfectly content, and would never be willing 
to leave the Convent. An exception seemed to bo 
made in her favour, in one respect; for I believe no 
criminal attempt was made upon her, until she had 
been for some time an inmate of the nunnery. 

Soon after her reception, or rather her forcible entry 
into the Convent, her father called to make inquiries 
about his daughter. The Superior first spoke with him 
herself, and then called us to repeat her plausible story, 
which I did with accuracy. If I had wished to say 
anything else, I never should have dared. 

We told the foolish old man, that his daughter, 
whom we all aifectionately loved, had long desired to 
become a nun, but had been too humble to wish to 
appear before spectators, and had, at her own desire, 
been favoured with a private admission into the com- 

The benefit conferred upon himself and his family, 
by this act of self-consecration, I reminded him, must 
be truly great and valuable; as every family who fur- 
nishes a priest, or a nun, is justly looked upon as 
receiving the peculiar favour of heaven on that account. 
The old Canadian, firmly believing every word I was 
forced to tell him, took the event as a great blessing, 
and expressed the greatest readiness to pay more than 
the customary fee to the Convent. After the inter- 
view, he withdrew, promising soon to return, and pay 
a handsome sum to the Convent, which he performed 
with all despatch and the greatest cheerfulness. The 
poor girl never heard her father had taken the trouble 
to call and see her, much less did she know anything of 
the imposition passed upon him. She remained in the 
Convent when I left it 


The youngrst girl who ever took the veil of our 
sisterhood, was only fourteen years of age, and con- 
sidered very pious. She lived but a short time. I 
was told that she was ill-treated by the priests, and 
believed her death was in consequence. 




IT was considered a great duty to exert ourseiree 
to influence novices in favour of the Roman 
Catholic religion; and different nuns were, at different 
times charged to do what they could, by conversation, 
to make favourable impressions on the minds of some, 
who were particularly indicated to us by the Superior. 
I often heard it remarked, that those who were influ- 
enced with the greatest difficulty, were young ladies 
from the United States; &nd on some of those, great 
exertions were made. 

Cases in which citizens of the States were said to 
have been converted to the Roman Catholic faith were 
sometimes spoken of, and always as if they were con- 
sidered highly important. 

The Bishop, a* we are told, was in the public squaw, 
en the day of an execution, when, as he said, a strangor 
looked at him in some peculiar manner, which made 
him confidently believe God intended to have him con- 
verted by his means. When he went home he wrote a 
letter for him, and the next day he found him again in 
the same place, and gave him the letter, which led to 
his becoming a Roman Catholic. This man, it was 
added, proved to be a citizen of the States. 

The Bishop, as I have remarked, was not very digni- 
fied on all occasions, and sometimes acted in such a 
manner as would not have appeared well in public. 

One day I saw him preparing for mass; and because 
be bnd some difficulty in getting on his robes, showed 


evident signu of anger. One of the nuns remarked: 
" The Bishop is going to perform a passionate ma* 8." 
Some of the others exclaimed: "Are you not ashamed 
to speak thus of my lord ? " And she was rewarded 
with a penance. 

But it might be hoped that the Bishop would be free 
from the crimes of which I have declared bo many 
priests to have been guilty. I am far from entertaining 
such charitable opinions of him; and I had good rea- 
sons, after a time. 

I was often required to sleep on & Bofa, in the room 
of the present Superior, a* 1 may hare already men- 

One night, not long after I was first introduced there 
for that purpose, and within the first twelve months of 
my wearing the veil, having retired as usual, at about 
half-past nine, not long after we had got into bed, the 
alarm-bell from without, which hangs over the Super- 
ior's bed was rung. She told me to 6ee who was there ; 
and going down, I heard the signal given, which I have 
before mentioned, a peculiar kind of hissing sound made 
through the teeth. I answered with a low "Hum — 
hum;" and then opened the door. It was Bishop Lar- 
tique, the present Bishop of Montreal. He said to me, 
" Are you a Novice or a Received V* meaning a Received 
nun. I answered, a * Received." 

He then requested me to conduct him to the Supe- 
rior's room, which T did. He went to the bed, drew the 
curtains behind him, and I lay down again upon the 
sofa, until morning, when the Superior called me, at an 
early hour, about daylight, and directed me to show him 
the door, to which I conducted him, and he took his 

I continued to visit the cellar frequently, to carry up 
coal for the fires, without anything more than a general 
impression that there were two nuns somewhere im- 
prisoned in it. One day, while there on my usual 
trrand, I saw a nun standing on the nght of the cellar 


in front of one of the cell doors I had before obserred; 
•he was apparently engaged with something within. 
This attracted my attention. The door appeared to 
close in a small recess, and was fastened with a stout 
iron bolt on the outside, the end of which was secured 
by being let into a hole in the stonework which formed 
the posts. The door, which was of wood, was sunk a 
few inches beyond the stonework, which rose and formed 
an arch overhead. Above the bolt was a small window 
supplied with a fine grating, which swung open, a small 
bolt having been removed from it, on the outside. The 
nun I had observed seemed to be whispering with some 
person within, through the little window ; but I hastened 
to get my coal, and left the cellar, presuming that wa» 
the prison. When I visited the place again, being alone, 
I ventured to the spot, determined to learn the truth, 
presuming that the imprisoned nuns, of whom the Su- 
perior had told me on my admission, were confined 
there. I spoke at the window where I had seen the nun 
standing, and heard a voice reply in a whisper. The 
aperture was so small, and the place so dark, that I 
could see nobody; but I learnt that a poor wretch was 
confined there a prisoner. I feared that I might be dis- 
covered, and after a few words, which I thought could 
do no harm, withdrew. 

My curiosity was now alive to learn everything I 
could about so mysterious a subject. I made a few 
enquiries of St. Xavier, who only informed me that 
they were punished for refusing to obey the Superior, 
Bishop, and priests. I afterwards found that the other 
nuns were acquainted with the fact I had just dis- 
covered. All I could learn, however, was that the 
prisoner in the cell whom I had just spoken with, 
and another in the cell just beyond, had been confined 
there several years without having been taken out ; 
but their names, connections, offences, and everything 
else relating to them, T could never learn, and am still 
hs ignorant of as ever. 


Borne conjcctnmi that they had refused ta comply 
with »ome of the rules of the Convent or requisitions oi 
the Superior; others, that they were heiresses whose 
property was desired for the Convent, and who would 
not consent to sign deeds of it. Some of the nuns 
informed me that the severest of their sufferings arose 
from fear of supernatural beings. 

I often spoke with one of them in passing near their 
cells, when on errands in the cellar, but never ventured 
to 6top long, or to press my enquiries very far. Besides, 
I found her reserved, and little disposed to converse 
freely, a thing I could not wonder at when I considered 
her situation, and the character of persons around her. 
She spoke like a woman in feeble health, and of broken 
spirits. I occasionally saw other nuns speaking to 
them, particularly at meal times, when they were regu- 
larly furnished with food, which was such as we our- 
selves ate. 

Their cells were occasionally cleaned, and then the 
doors were opened. I never looked into them, but was 
informed that the ground was their only floor. I pre- 
sumed that they were furnished with straw to lie upon, 
as I always saw a quantity of old straw scattered about 
that part of the cellar, after the cells had been cleaned. 
I once inquired of one of them whether they could con- 
verse together, and she replied that they could, through 
a small opening between their cells, which I could not 

I once inquired of the one T spoke with in passing, 
whether she wanted anything, and she replied — 

* Tell Jane Ray I want to see her a moment if she 
can slip away.* 

When I went up I took an opportunity to deliver my 
message to Jane, who concerted with me a signal to 
be used in future, in case a similar request should be 
made through me. This was a sly wink at her with 
one eye accompanied with a slight toss of the head. 
She then sought an opportunity to visit the cellar, and 


was #0011 able to hold an interview with the poor 
prisoners, -without being noticed by anyone but myself. 
I afterwards learnt that mad Jane Kay was not bo 
mad but she could feel for those miserable beings, and 
carry through measures for their comfort. She would 
often visit them with sympathizing words, and when 
necessary, conceal part of her food while at table, 
and secretly convey it into their dungeons. Some- 
times we would combine for such an object; and have 
repeatedly aided her in thus obtaining a larger sup- 
ply of food than they had been able to obtain from 

I frequently thought of the two nuns confined in the 
cells, and occasionally heard something said about them 
but very little. Whenever I visited the cellar, and 
thought it safe, T went up to the first of them and spoke 
a word or two, and usually got some brief reply, with- 
out ascertaining that any particular change took place 
with either of them. 

The one with whom alone T ever conversed, spoke 
English perfectly well, and French. T thought, as well. 
I supposed she must have been well educated, for I 
could not tell which was her native language. I remem- 
ber that she frequently used these words when I wished 
to say more to her, and which alone showed that Bha 
was constantly afraid of punishment: — 

" Oh, there's somebody coming — do go away !" 

I have been told that the other prisoner also ep j>;s 

Tt was impossible for me to form any certain opinion 
about the size or appearance of those two miserable 
creatures, for their cells were perfectly dark, and I 
never caught the slightest glimpse even of their faces. 
It is probable they were women not above the midd'e 
size, and my reason for this presumption is the follow- 
ing: T was sometimes appointed to lay out the clenn 
clothes for «!! the nuns in the Convent on Saturdav 
evening;, and was alwp.y* directed to lay by two suits fw 


the prisoners. Particular orders were given to select 
the largest sized garments for several tall nuns ; but 
nothing of the kind was ever said in relation to the 
clothes for those in the cells. 

I had not been long a 7eiled nun before I requested 
of the Superior permission to confess to the " Saint 
Bon Pasteur," (Holy Good Shepherd), that is, the mys- 
terious and nameless nun whom I had heard of while a 
novice. I knew of several others who had confessed to 
her at different times, and of some who had sent their 
clo f hes to be touched by her when they were sick; and 
I felt a desire to unburden my heart of certain things, 
which I was loath to acknowledge to the Superior, or 
any of the priests. 

The Superior made me wait a little until she conM 
ascertain whether the " Saint Bon Pasteur * was ready 
to admit me; and, after a time, returned and told me 
to enter the old nuns' room. That apartment has 
twelve beds arranged like the berths of a ship by threes; 
and as each bed is broad enough to receive two persons, 
twenty-four may be lodged there, which was about the 
number of old nuns in the Convent during most of my 
*tay in it. Near an opposite corner of the apartment 
was a large glass case, with no appearance of a door, 
or other opening, in any part of it; and in that case 
stood the venerable mm, in the dress of the community, 
with her thick veil spread over her face, so as to conceal 
it entirely. She was standing, for the place did not 
allow room for sitting, and moved a little, which was 
the only sign of life, as she did not speak. I fell upon 
my knees before her, and began to confess some of my 
imperfections, which lay heavy upon my mind, implor- 
ing her aid and intercession, that I might be delivered 
from them. She appeared to listen to me with patience, 
but still never returned a word in reply. 

I became much affected as I went on ; at length 
began to weep bitterly; and, when I withdrew, was in 
f»*a*% It seemed to me that my heart was remarkably 


relieve after this exercise, and all the requests I had 
made, i io una, as I believed, strictly fulfilled. 1 often, 
afterwards, visited the old nuns' room for the same pur- 
pose, and frith similar results; so that my belief in the 
sanctity of the nameless nun, and my regard for her 
intercession, were unbounded. 

What is remarkable, though I repeatedly was sent 
into that room to dust it, or to put it in order, I re- 
marked that the glass case was vacant and no signs 
were to be found, either of the nun, or of the war by 
which she had left it! so that a solemn conclusion 
rested upon my mind that she had gone on one of b>*r 
frequent visits to heaven. 

A priest would sometimes come in the daytime to 
teach us to sing, and this was done with some parade 
or stir, as if it were considered, or meant to be con- 
sidered, as a thing of importance. 

The instructions, however, were entirely repetitions 
of the words and tunes, nothing being taught even of the 
first principles of the science. It appeared to me, that 
although hymns alone were sung, the exercise was 
chiefly designed for our amusement, to raise our spirit* 
a little, which were apt to become depressed. Mad Jane 
Bay certainly usually treated the whole thing as a mat- 
ter of sport, and often excited those of us who under- 
stood English, to a great degree of mirth. She had a 
very fine voice, which was so powerful as generally to 
be heard above the rest. Sometimes she would be silent 
when the other nuns began; and the Superior would 
often call out, — 

" Jane Ray, you don't sing." 

She always had some trifling excuse ready, and com- 
monly appeared unwilling to join the rest. 

After being urged or commanded by the Superior, 
she would then strike some English song, or profane 
parody, which wag rendered ten times more ridiculous 
by the ignorance of the Lady Superior and the majonty 
of the nuns, T rannot help laughing now when T re- 


member how she used to stand with perfect composuw 
and Ring, 

* I wish I was married and nothing to rue, 
With plenty of money and nothing to do." 

* Jane Ray, you don't sing right" the Superior would 

" Oh," she would reply with perfect coolness, " tha£ 
is the English for 

'Seigneur Dieu de clemence, 
Recois ce grand pecheur 1' " 

And, as sung by her, a person ignorant of the language 
would naturally be imposed upon. It was extremely 
difficult for me to conceal my laughter. I have alwayR 
had greater exertion to make in repressing it than most 
other persona, and mad Jane Ray often took advantage 
of this. 

Saturday erening usually brought with it much un- 
pleasant work for some of us. We received Sacrament 
every Sunday; and in preparation for it, on Saturday 
evening, we asked pardon of the Superior, and of each 
other, " for the scandal we had caused them since we 
last received the Sacrament," and then asked the Supe- 
rior's permission to receive it on the following day. 
She enquired of each nun, who necessarily asked her 
permission, whether she, naming her as Saint somebody 
had concealed any sin that should hinder her receiving 
it; and if the answer was in the negative, she granted 
her permission. 

On Saturdays we were catechised by a priest, being 
assembled in a community-room. He eat on the right 
of the door, in a chair. He often told us stories, and 
frequently enlarged on the duty of enticing novices into 
the nunnery. " Do you not feel happy," he would say, 
"now that you are safely out of the world, and sure of 
heaven ? Bnt remember how many poor people are yt 
in the world. Every novice you influence to tak* th« 


black veil, will add to your honour in heaven. TeO 
them how happy you are." 

The Superior played one trick while I was in tho 
Convent, which always passed for one of the most 
admirable she ever carried into execution. We were 
pretty good judges in a case of this kind; for, as may 
be presumed, we were rendered familiar with the arts 
of deception under go accomplished a teacher. 

There was an ornament on hand in the Nunnery, of 
an extraordinary kind, which was prised at ten pounds; 
but it had been made and exposed to view eo long that 
it became damaged and quite unsaleable. We were 
one day visited by au old priest from the country, who 
was evidently somewhat intoxicated; and as he with- 
drew to go to his lodgings in the Seminary, where the 
country priests often stay, the Superior conceived a 
plan for disposing of the old ornament. u Come," said 
•he, " we will send it to the old priest, and swear he has 
bought it." 

We all approved of the ingenious device, for it 
evidently might be classed among tbe pious frauds we 
had so often had recommended to us, both by precept 
and example; and the ornament was sent to him the 
next morning, as his property when paid for. He soon 
came into the Convent, and expressed the greatest stir- 
prise that he had been charged with purchasing such 
a thing, for which he had no need and no desire. 

The Superior heard his declaration with patience, but 
politely insisted that it was a fair bargain ; and we then 
surrounded the old priest, with the strongest assertions 
that such ires the fact, and that nobody would have 
thought of bis purchasing it unless he had expressly 
engaged to take it. The poor old man was entirely put 
down. He was certain of the truth ; but what could he 
do to resist or disprove a direct falsehood pronounced 
by the Superior of a Convent, and sworn to by all her 
holy nuns? He finally expressed his conviction that 
w*» w*»re right ; and was compelled to pay his money. 



QOME of the priests from the Seminary were in the 
O NunDery every day and night, and often several 
at a time. I have seen nearly all of them at different 
times, though there are about one hundred and fifty in 
the district of Montreal. There was a difference in 
their conduct; though I believe every one of them was 
guilty of licentiousness; while not one did I ever see 
who maintained a character any way becoming the pro- 
fession of a priest. Some were gross and degraded 
in a degree which few of my readers can ever have 
imagined; and I should be unwilling to offend the eye 
and corrupt the heart of any one, by an account of 
their words and actions. Few imaginations can con- 
ceive deeds so abominable as they practised, and often 
required of some of the poor woman, under the fear of 
severe punishments, and even of death. I do not 
hesitate to say with the strongest confidence, that 
although some of the nuns became lost to every senti- 
ment of virtue and honour, especially one of the 
Congregational Nunnery whom I have before men- 
tioned, Saint Patrick, the greater part of them loathed 
the practices to which they were compelled to submit, 
by their Superior and priests, who kept them under so 
dreadful a bondage. 

Some of the priest wbom I saw I never knew by name, 
and the names of others T did not learn for a time, 
and at last only bv accident. 

They were always called "Men ¥&re" (my father) 
tat sometimes when they bad purchased something ia 


the ornament-room, they would give their real names, 
with directions where it should be sent. Many names, 
thus learnt, and in other ways, were whispered about 
from nun to nun, and became pretty generally known. 
Several of the priests some of us had seen before we 
entered the Convent. 

Many things of which I speak, from the nature of 
the case, must necessarily rest chiefly upon my own 
word, until further evidence can be obtained ; but there 
are some facts for which I can appeal to the knowledge 
of others. It is commonly known in Montreal that 
some of the priests occasionally withdraw from their 
customary employments, and are not to be seen for 
some time; it being understood that they have retired 
for religious study, meditation, and devotion, for the 
improvement of their hearts. Sometimes they are thus 
withdrawn from the world for weeks; but there is no 
fixed period. 

This was a fact I knew before I took the veil; for it 
is a frequent subect of remark, that such or such a 
Father is on a "holy retreat." This is a term which 
conveys the idea of a religious seclusion from the world, 
for sacred purposes. On the re-appearance of a priest 
after such a period, in the church or the streets, it is 
natural to feel a peculiar impression of his devout 
character — an impression very different from that con- 
veyed to the mind of one who knows matters as they 
really are. Suspicions have been indulged by some in 
Canada on this subject, and facts are known by at least 
a few. I am able to speak from personal knowledge; 
for I have been a nun of Soeur Bourgeoise. 

The priests are liable, by their dissolute habits, to 
occasional attacks of disease, 'which render it necessary, 
or at least prudent, to submit to medical treatment. 

In the Black Nunnery they find private accommoda- 
tion, for they are free to enter one of the private 
hospitals whenever they please; which is a room set 
apart on purpose fr>r the neromroodation of the priests. 


and I* called a retreat room. But an excuse i* nece»- 
aary to blind the public, and this they find in the 
pretence they make of being in a " Holy Retreat." 
Many such cases have I known ; and I can mention the 
name* of priests who have been confined in this Holy 
Retreat. They are very carefully attended by the 
Superior and old nuns, and their diet consists mostly of 
vegetable soups, &c. f with but little meat, and that 
fresh. I have seen an instrument of surgery lying upon 
the table in that holy room, which is used only for par- 
ticular purposes. 

Father Tombeau. a Roman priest, waf on one of his 
holy retreats about the time when I left the Nunnery. 
There are sometimes a number confined there at the 
same time. The victims of these priests frequently 
6hare the same fate. 

I have often reflected how grievously I had been 
deceived in my opinion of a nun's condition I All the 
holiness of their lives, I now saw was merely pretended. 
The appearance of sanctity and heavenly-mindedness 
which they had shown among us novices, I found was 
only a disguise to conceal such practices as would not 
be tolerated in any decent society in the world; and as 
for joy and peace like that of heaven, which I had 
expected to find among them, I learnt too well that 
they did not exist there. 

The only way in which such thoughts were coun- 
teracted was by the constant instructions given us by 
the Superior and priests, to regard every doubt as a 
mortal sin. Other faults we might have, as we were 
told over and over again, which though worthy of 
penances, were far less sinful than these. For a nun to 
doubt that sbfi was doing her duty in fulfilling her vows 
mnd oaths, was a heinous offence, and we were ex- 
horted always to suppress our doubts, to confess them 
without reserve and cheerfully submit to severe pen- 
ances on account of them, as the only mean* of raorti- 

la/ Maria mokk. 

fying our evil disposition*, and resisting the tempta- 
tions of the devil. Thus we learnt in a good degree to 
resist our minds and consciences, when we felt the rising 
of a question about the duty of doing anything required 
of us. 

To enforce this upon us they employed various 
means. Some of the most striking stories told us at 
catechism by the priests, were designed for this end. 
One of these I will repeat. "One day," a? a priest 
assured us, who was hearing us say the catechism on 
Saturday afternoon, * as one Monsieur * * *, a well 
known citizen of Montreal, was walking near the 
cathedral, he saw Satan giving orders to innumerable 
evil spirits who were assembled around him. Being 
afraid of being seen, and yet wishing to observe what 
was done, he hid himself where he could observe all 
that passed. Satan despatched his devils to different 
parts of the city, with directions to do their best for 
him; and they returned in a short time, bringing in 
reports of their success in leading persons of different 
classes to the commission of various sins, which they 
thought would be agreeable to their master. Satan, 
however, expressed his dissatisfaction, and ordered them 
out again, but just then a spirit from the Black 
Kunnery came, who had not been seen before, and 
stated that he had been trying for seven years to per- 
suade one of the nuns to doubt, and had just succeeded. 
Satan received the intelligence with the highest 
pleasure; and turning to the spirits around him, said: 
'You have not half done your work, — he has done 
much more than all of you/ ** 

In spite, however, of our instructions and warnings, 
our fears and penances, such doubts would obtrude ; 
and T have often indulged thern for a time, and at 
length, yielding to the belief that I was wrong in giving 
place to them, would confess them, and undergo with 
cheerfulness and) new penances as I wa* loaded with. 
Others, too, would occasionally entertain and private! r 


eiprcss such doubts; though we all had been most 
solemnly warned by the cruel murder of Saint Frances. 
Occasionally aomo of the nuns would go further, and 
resist the restraints of punishments imposed upon 
them ; and it was not uncommon to hear screams, some- 
times of a most piercing and terrific kind, from nuns 
Buffering under discipline. 

Some of my readers may feel disposed to exclaim 
against me, for believing things which will strike them 
as so monstrous and abominable. To such I would 
say, without pretending to justify myself: — you know 
little of the position in which I was placed ; in the first 
place, ignorant of any other religious doctrines, and in 
the second, met at every moment by some ingenious 
argument, and the example of a large community, who 
received all the instructions of the priests as of un- 
doubted truth, and practised upon them. Of the vari- 
ety and speciousness of the arguments used, you cannot 
have any correct idea. They were often so ready with 
replies, examples, anecdotes, and authorities, to enforce 
their doctrines, that it seemed to me as if they could 
never have learnt it all from books, but must have been 
taught by wicked spirits. 

Indeed, when I reflect upon their conversations, I am 
astonished at their art and address, and find it difficult 
to account for their subtlety and success in influencing 
my mind, and persuading me to anything they pleased. 
It seems to ma that hardly anybody would be safe in 
their hands. If you were to go to confession twice, I 
believe you would feel very different from wb.8t you 
do now. They have *uch a way of avoiding one thing 
and speaking of another, of affirming this, and doubting 
and disputing that, of quoting authorities, and speaking 
of wonders and miracles recently performed, in con- 
firmation of what they teach, as familiarly known to 
persons whom they call by name, ond whom they pre- 
f*9tl to offer a* witnesses, though they never give yra 


an opportunity to speak with them. — these, and many 
other means, they use in such a way, that they always 
blinded my mind, and I should think, would blind the 
minds of others. 




IT will be recollected, that I was informed immedi- 
ately after receiving the veil, that infants were 
occasionally murdered in the Convent. I was one day 
in the nuns* private sick room, when I had an oppor- 
tunity unsought for, of witnessing deed* of such a na- 
ture. It was, perhaps, a month after the death of St. 

Two little twin babes, the children of St Catherine, 
were brought to a priest, who tvas in the room, for 
baptism. I was present while the ceremony was per- 
formed, with the Superior and several of the old nuns, 
whose names I never knew, they being called Ma tant 

The priests took turns in attending to confession and 
catechism in the Convent, usually three months at a 
time, though sometimes longer periods. The priest 
then on duty was Father Larkin. He is a good-looking 
European, and has t brother who is a Professor in the 
College. He first put oil upon the heads of the infants, 
as is the custom before baptism. When they had bap- 
tised the children, they were taken, one after another, 
by one of the old nuns, in the presence of us all. She 
pressed her hand upon the mouth and nose of the first 
so tight that it could not breathe, and in a few minutes, 
when the hand was removed, it was dead. She then 
took the other, and treated it in the same way. N» 
sound was heard, and both the children were corpses. 
The greatest indifference was shown by ail present 
during this operation ; for all, as I well knew, wert 

Ill KA*IA MOW*. 

long accustomed to such scenes. The little bodies 
were then Wken into the cellar, thrown into the pit 
I hare mentioned, and covered with a quantity of 

1 afterward* saw a new-horn infant treated in the 
same manner, in the same place but the actors in this 
scene 1 choose not to name, nor the circumstances, as 
everything connected with it is of a peculiarly trying 
and painful nature to my own feelings. 

These were the only instances of infanticide I wit 
nessed; and it seemed to be merely owing to accident 
that I was then present. So far as I know there werr 
no pains taken to preserve secrecy on this subject; thafr 
is, I saw do attempt made to keep any inmate of the 
Convent in ignorance of the murder of the children 
On the contrary, others were told, as well as myself, or 
their first admission as veiled nuns, that all infant." 
born in the place were baptised and killed, without low 
of timel and I had been called to witness the murder 
of the three just mentioned, only because I happened to 
be in the room at the time. 

That others were killed in the same manner, during 
my stay in Hie nunnery, I am well assured. 

How many there were I cannot tell, and having taken 
no account of those I heard of, I cannot speak with pre- 
cision; I believe, however, that I learnt through nuns, 
that at least eighteen or twenty infants were smothered, 
and secretly buried in the cellar while I was a nun. 

One of the effects of the weariness of our bodies and 
minds, was our proneness to talk in our sleep. It was 
both ludicrous and painful to hear the nuns repeat their 
prayers in the course of the night, as they frequently 
did in their dreams. Requiring to keep our minds con- 
tinually on the stretch, both in watching our conduct, in 
remembering the rules and our prayers, under the fear 
of the consequences of any neglect, when we closed our 
eyes in sleep, we often went over again the scenes of 
the (fay; and it was no uncommon thing for me to hear 


• nun repeat one or two of her long exercnass in the 
dead of the night Sometime* by the time she had 
finished, another, in a different part of the room, would 
happen to take a similar turn, and commence & similar 
recitation; and I have known cases in which several 
•uch unconscious exercises were performed, a11 within 
an hour or two. 

We had now and then a recreation day, when we 
were relieved from our customary labour, and from all 
prayers except those for morning and evening, and th» 
short ones said at every striking of the clock. The 
greater part of our time was then occupied with differ- 
ent games, particularly backgammon and drafts, and in 
such conversation as did not relate to our past lives, 
and the outside of the Convent. Sometimes, how- 
ever, our sports would be interrupted on such days by 
the entrance of one of the priests, who would come io 
and propose that his fete, the birthday of his patron 
#aint, should be kept by " the saints." We saints 1 

Several nuns died at different times while I was in 
the Convent; how many I cannot say, but there was a 
considerable number. I might rather say many in pro- 
portion to the number in the nunnery. The proportion 
of deaths 1 am sure was very large. There were always 
some in the nuns' sick-room, and several interments 
took place in the chapel. 

When a Black Nun is dead, the corpse is dressed a* 
if living, and placed in the chapel in a sitting posture, 
within the railing round the altar, with a book in the 
hand as if reading. Persons are then freely admitted 
from the street, and some of them read and pray before 
it. No particular notoriety is given. I believe, to this 
exhibition out of tht> Convent, but such a case usually 
excites some attention. 

The living nuns tin* required to say prayer* for the 
delivery of their deceased sister from purgatory, being 
informed, as in all other such case*, that if *he is not 
there, and has no need of our intercession, our prcvera 


are in no danger of being thrown av,ay. t& they will b« 
set down to the account of some of our deceased friends 
or at least to that of the souls which have no acquaint- 
ances to pray for them. 

It was customary for us occasionally to kneel before 
a dead nun thua seated in the chapel, and 1 ha?e often 
performed that task. It was always painful, for the 
ghastly countenance being seen whenever 1 raised my 
eyes, and the feeling that the position and dress weTe 
entirely opposed to every idea of propriety in such a 
case, always made me melancholy. 

The Superior sometimes left the Convent, and was 
absent for an hour, or several hours at a time, but we 
never knew of it until she had returned, and were not 
informed where she bad been. I one day had reason 
to presume that she had recently paid a visit to the 
priests' farm, though 1 had not direct evidence that 
such was the fact The priests' farm is a fine tract of 
land belonging to the Seminary, a little distance from 
the city, near the Lachine road, with a large old- 
fashioned edifice upon it. I happened to be in the Su- 
perior's room on the day alluded to, when she made 
some remark on the plainness and poverty of her furni- 
ture. I replied that she was not proud, and could not 
be dissatisfied on that account; she answered: — 

"No; but if I was, how much superior is the furni- 
ture at the priest*' farm, the poorest room there is fur- 
nished better than the best of mine.'* 

] was one day mending the fire in the Superior'* 
room, when a priest was conversing with her on the 
scarcity of money; and I heard him say that very little 
money was received by the priests for prayers, but that 
the principal part came with penances and absolutions. 

One of the most remarkable and unaccountable things 
that happened in the Convent, was the disappearance 
of the old Superior. She had performed her customary 
part during the day, and had acted and appeared just 
rv* usual. She had shown no Bvrnotom* <*f ill-health. 

MAK1A MOW*. 114 

met with no particular difficulty in conducting business, 
and no agitation, anxiety, or gloom had been noticed 
in her conduct We had no reason to suppose that 
during the day she had expected anything particular 
to occur, auy more than the rest of us. 

After the close of our customary labours and evening 
lectures, she dismissed u? to retire to bed, exactly in 
her usual manner. The next morning the bell rang, we 
sprang from our beds, hurried on our clothes as usual, 
and proceeded to the community-rooin in double line, 
to commence the morning exercise. There, to our 
surprise, we found Bishop Lartique; but the Superior 
was no where to be seen. The Bishop soon addressed 
us, instead of her, and informed us, that a lady near 
him, whom he presented to us, was now the Superior 
of the Convent, and enjoined upon us the same respect 
and obedience which we paid to her predecessor. 

The lady he introduced to us was one of our oldest 
nuns, Saint Du****, a very large, fleshy woman, with 
swelled limbs, which rendered her very slow in walking, 
and often gave her great distress Not a word was 
dropped from which we could conjecture the cause of 
this change, nor of the fate of the old Superior. I 
took the first opportunity to enquire of one of the 
nuns, whom I dared to talk to, what had become of 
her; but 1 found them as ignorant as myself, though 
suspicious that she had been murdered by order of the 
Bishop. Never did I obtain any light on her mysteri- 
ous disappearance, T am confident, however, that if th<» 
Bishop wished to got rid of her privately, and by foul 
means, he had ample opportunities and power at his 
command. Jane Ray, as usual, could not allow such an 
occurrence to pass by without intimating her own sus- 
picions more plainly than any other of the nuns would 
have dared to do. She spoke out one day in the com- 
munity-room, and said, " I'm going to have a hunt in 
the cellar for my old Superior." 

" Hush, Jane Ray ! " exclaimed some of the nuwa, 


• you'll be punished." 

" My mother used to teil me," replied Jane, * never to 
be afraid of the face of man." 

It cannot be thought strange that we were super- 
stitious. Some were more easily terrified than other* 
by unaccountable sights and sound*; but all of us be- 
lieved in the power and occasional appearance of spirit*, 
and were ready to look for them at almost any 
time. 1 have seen several instances of alarm caused 
by such superstition, and have experienced it myself 
more than once. I was ODe day sitting mending 
aprons, beside one of the old nuns, in the community- 
room, while the litanies were repeating; as I was very 
easy to laugh, Saint Ignaee, or Agnes, came in, walked 
up to her with much agitation, and began to whisper in 
her ear. She usually talked but little, and that made 
me more curious to know what was the matter. I over- 
heard her say to the old nun, in much alarm, that in 
the cellar from which she had just returned, she had 
heard the most dreadful groans that ever came from 
any human being. This was enough to give me uneasi- 
ness. I could not account for the appearance of an 
evil spirit in any part of the Convent, for I had been 
assured that the only one ever known there was that of 
the nun who had died with an unconfessed sin; and 
that others were kept at a distance by the holy water 
that was rather profusely used in different parts of the 
nunnery. Still, I presumed that the sounds heard by 
Saint Tgnace must have proceeded from some devil, and 
1 felt great dread at the thought of visiting the cellar 
again. I determined to seek further information of the 
terrified nun, but when I addressed her on the subject, 
at recreation-time, the first opportunity I could find, 
riie replied, that I was always trying to make her break 
silence, and walked off to another group in the room, so 
that I could obtain no satisfaction. 

It is remarkable that in our nunnery, we were almost 
entirely cut off from the means of knowing anything 



even of each other. There were many nun* whom I 
know nothing of to this day, after hating heen in the 
same room with them every day and night for four 
years. There was a nun, whom I supposed to be in the 
Convent, and whom I was anxious to learn something 
about from the time of my entrance as a novice; but I 
never was able to learn anything concerning her, not 
even whether she waa in the nunnery or not, whether 
alive or dead. She was the daughter of a rich family, 
residing at Point aux Trembles, of whom "I had heard 
my mother speak before I entered the Convent The 
name of her family I think was Lafayette, and she was 
thought to be from Europe. She was known to have 
taken the Black Veil, but as I was not acquainted with 
the Saint she had assumed, and I could not describe 
her in "the world," all my enquiries and observationa 
proved entirely in vain. 

I had heard before my entrance into the Convent, 
that one of the nuns had made her escape from it 
during the last war, and once inquired about her of the 
Superior. She admitted that such was the fact; but T 
was never able to learn any particulars concerning her 
came, origin, or manneT of escape- 

11/ MAltlA MQXZ. 



I AM unable to «ay how many nuns disappeared 
while I was in the Convent. There were several 
One wn? a yonng lady called St. Pierre, I think, but am 
not certain of her nama There were two nuns by this 
name. I had known her as a novice with me. She 
had been a novice about two years and a half before I 
became one. She was rather large without being tall, 
and had rather dark hair and eyes. She disappeared 
unaccountably, and nothing was said of her except 
what I heard in whispers from a few nuns, as we 
found moments when we could speak unobserved. 

Some told me they thought she must have left the 
Convent; and I might have supposed so, had I not 
sometimes afterwards found some of her things lying 
about, which she would, in such a case, doubtless have 
taken with her. I had never known anything more of 
her than what I could observe or conjecture. I had 
always, however, the idea that her parents or friends 
were wealthy, for she sometimes received clothes and 
other things which were very rich. 

Another nun named St. Paul, died suddenly, but a* 
in other cases, we knew so little, or rather were so 
entirely ignorant of the cause and circumstances, that 
we could only conjecture; and being forbidden to 
speak freely upon that or any other subject, thought 
little about it I have mentioned that a number of 
veiled nuns thus mysteriously disappeared during my 
residence among them. I cannot perhaps recall them 


»H, Vat I am confident there were *s many as At?, And 
1 think more. All that we knew in such cases was, 
that one of our number who appeared as usual when 
last observed, was nowhere to be seen, and never was 
again. — Mad Jane Ray, on several such occasions, 
would indulge in her bold, and, as we thought, danger- 
ous remarks. She had intimated that some of those, 
who had been for some time in the Convent, were by 
tome means removed to make room for new ones; and 
it was generally the fact, that the disappearance of one 
and the introduction of another into our community, 
were nearly at the same time. I have repeatedly heard 
Jane Kay say, with one of her significant looks, "When 
you appear, somebody else disappears !" 

It is unpleasant enough to distress or torture one's 
self; but there is sometimes worse in being tormented 
by others, especially where they resort to force, and 
show a pleasure in compelling you, and leave you no 
hope to escape, or opportunity to resist. I had seen 
the gags repeatedly in use, and sometimes applied with 
a roughness which seemed rather inhuman; but it is 
one thing to see and another thing to feel. They 
were ready to recommend a resort to compulsory 
measures, and ever ready to run for the gags. These 
were kept in one of the community^rooms, in a 
drawer between two closets; and there a stock of 
about fifty of them were always kept in deposit. 
Sometimes a number of nuns would prove refractory 
at a time: and I have seen battles commenced in 
which several appeared on both sides. The disobedient 
were, however, soon overpowered: and to prevent their 
screams from being heard beyond the walls, gagging 
commenced immediately. 1 have seen half a dozen 
lying gagged and bound at once. 

I have been subjected to the same state of involun- 
tary silence more than once; for sometimes I became 
excited to a state of desperation by the measures used 
against we, and then conducted myself in a manner 

rip Mjmua monk. 

perhaps not less violent than some others. My band* 
have been tied behind me. and a gag put into my mouth, 
sometimes with such force and rudeness as to separata 
my lips, and cause the blood to flow freely. 

Treatment of this hind is apt to teach submission; 
and many times I have acquiesced under orders, 
received, or wishes expressed, with a fear of a recur- 
rence to some severe measures. 

One day I had incurred the anger of the Superior in 
a greater degree than usual, and it was ordered that I 
should be taken to one of the cells. I was taken by 
some of the nuns, bound and gagged, carried down the 
stairs into the cellar, and laid upon the floor. Not 
long afterwards I induced one of the nuns to request 
the Superior to come down and see me: and on 
making som« acknowledgment, I was released. I will, 
however, relate this story rather more in detail. 

On that day I had been engaged with Jane Eay, in 
carrying into effect a plan of revenge upon another 
person, when I fell under the vindictive spirit of some 
of the old nuns and suffered severely. The Superior 
ordered me to the cells, and a scene of violence com- 
menced which I will not attempt to describe, no** the 
precise circumstances which led to it. Suffice it to 
say, that after I had exhausted all my strength, by 
resisting as long as I could, against several nuns, I had 
my hands drawn behind my back, a leathern band 
passed first round my thumbs, then round my hands, 
and then round my waist and fastened This was 
drawn so tight that it cut through the flesh of my 
thumbs, making wounds, the scars of which still 
remain. A gag was then forced into my mouth, not 
indeed so violently as it sometimes was. but roughly 
enough? after which I was taken by maiD force, and 
carried down into the cellar, sctoss it almost to the 
opposite extremity and brought to the last of the 
second range of cells on the left hand. The door wag 
opened, and T was thrown in with violence, and left 


alone, tfee door being immediately closed, and bolted 
on the outside. The bare ground was under me, cold 
and hard as if it had been beaten even. 1 lay still in 
the position in which 1 had fallen, as it would have 
been difficult for me to move, coniined as 1 was, and 
exhausted by my exertions; and the shock of my fall, 
and my wretched state of desperation and fear disin- 
clined me from any further attempt. I was in almost 
total darkness, there being nothing perceptible except 
a slight glimmer of light which came in through the 
littJe window far above me. 

How long I remained in that condition I can only 
conjecture. It seemed to me a long time, and must 
have been two or three hours. I did not move, ex- 
pecting to die there, and in a state of distress which 
I cannot describe, from the tight bondage about my 
hands, and the gag holding my jaws apart at their 
greatest extension. I am confident. I must have died 
before morning, if, as I then expected, I had been left 
there all night. By-and-bye, however, the bolt was 
drawn, the door opened, and Jane Ray spoke to me in a 
tone of kindness. 

She had taken an opportunity to slip into the cel- 
lar unnoticed-, on purpose to see me. She unbound 
the gag, took it out of my mouth, and told me she 
would do anything to get me out of that dungeon. If 
she had had the bringing of me down she would not 
have thrust me in so brutally, and she would be 
resented on those who had. She of7en»d to throw 
herself upon her knees before the Superior, and beg 
her forgiveness. To this I would not conserit; but 
told her to ask the Superior to come to me, as I 
wished to speak to her. This I bad no idea she 
would condescend to do; but Jane had noj; been gone 
Ion? before the Superior came, and asked if I repented 
in the sight of God for -what I had done. I replied 
in the affirmative; and after a lecture of some length 
on the pain T had given the Virjrln Mary by tt»t 


conduct, she asked me whether I wa* frilling to ask par- 
don of all the nuns for the scandal I had caused them 
by my beha?iour. To this I made no objection; and 
I was then released from my prison and my bonds, went 
up to the com ni unity -room, and kneeling before all the 
sisters in succession, begged the forgiveness and prayers 
of each. 

Among the mark* which I still bear of the wounds 
received from penances and violence, are the scars left 
by the belt with which I repeatedly tortured myself, for 
the mortification of my spirit. These are most distinct 
on my side; for although the band, which was four to 
five inches in breadth, and extended round the waist, 
was stuck full of sharp iron points in all parts, it was 
sometimes crowded most against my side, by resting in 
my chair, and then the wounds were usually deeper 
there than anywhere else. 

My thumbs were several times cut severely by the 
tight drawing of the band used to confine my arms; 
the scars are still visible upon them. 

The rough gagging which I several times endured 
wounded my lips very much ; for it was common, in that 
operation to thrust the gag hard against the teeth, and 
catch one or both the lips, which were sometimes cruelly 
cut. The object was to stop the screams made by the 
offender, as soon as possible; and some of the old nuns 
delighted in tormenting us. A gag was once forced into 
my mouth, which had a large splinter upon it; and this 
cut through my upper lip, in front, leaving to this day 
a scar about half an inch long. The same lip was 
several times wounded as well as the other; but one 
day worse than ever, when a narrow piece was cut off 
from the left side of it, by being pinched between the 
gag and the undsr fore-teeth; and this has left an in- 
equality in it which is still observable. 

One of the most shocking stories I heard of e*«nt» 
that occurred in the nunnery before my acquaintance 
with it was the following, which was tnld me by Jane 


Ray. What is uncommcm, I can date when 1 heard 
it' It was on New Year'B Day, 1834. The cere- 
monies, customary in the early part of that day, had 
been performed; after masB, in the morning, the Su- 
perior had shaken hands with all the nuns, and given 
us her blessing, for she was 6aid to have received 
power from heaven to do so once a year, and then on 
the first day of the year. Besides this, cakes, raisins, 
&c, are distributed to the nuns on that day. 

While in the community-room, I had taken a seat 
just within the cupboard door, where I often found a 
partial shelter from observation with Jane, when a 
conversation incidentally began between us. Our 
practice often was, to take places there beside one of the 
old nuns, awaiting the time when she would go away 
for a little while, and leave us partially screened from 
the observation of others. On that occasion, Jane and 
I were left for a time alone; when, after some dis- 
course on Buicide, she remarked that three nuns once 
killed themselves in the Convent. This happened, she 
said, not long after her reception, and I knew, there- 
fore, that it was several years before, for she had been 
received a considerable time before I became a novice. 
Three young ladies, she informed me, took the veil to- 
gether, or very near the same time, I am not certain 
which. I know they have four robes in the Convent to 
be worn dnring the ceremony of taking the veil: but I 
never havo seen more than one of them used at a time. 

Two of the new nuns were sisters, and the other 
their cousin. They had been received but a few days 
when information was given one morning, that they 
had been found dead in their beds, amid a profusion 
of blood. Jano Kay Baid she saw their corpses, and 
that they appeared to have killed themselves, by open- 
ing veins in their arms with a knife they had obtained, 
and all had bled together. What was extraordinary, 
June Ray added, that she heard no noise, and she be- 
lieved nobody had suspected that anything wan wrong 


during the night St. Hypolite, however, had «tated 
that she had fottnd them in the morning, after the 
other nuns had gone to prayers, lying lifeless in their 

For some reason or other, their death wa» not made 
public; but their bodies, instead of being exhibited in 
full dress, in the chapel, and afterwards interred with 
solemnity beneath it, were taken unceremoniously into 
the cellar, and thrown into the hole I have so often 

There were a few instances, and only a few, in 
which we knew anything that was happening in the 
world; and even then our knowledge did not extend 
out of the city. I can recall but three occasions of 
this kind. Two of them were when the cholera pre- 
vailed in Montreal : and the other was the election 
riots. The appearance of the cholera, in both seasons 
of its ravages, gave us abundance of occupation. In- 
deed, we were more borne down by hard labour at 
those times, than ever before or afterwards during my 
stay. The Pope had given early notice that the 
burning of wax candles could afford protection from 
the disease, because so long an any person continued 
to burn one, the Virgin Mary would intercede for him. 
No sooner, therefore, had the alarming disease made 
its appearance in Montreal, than a long wax candle 
was lighted in the Convent, for each of the inmates, 
so that all parts of it in use were artifically illumin- 
ated day and night. Thus a great many candles were 
constantly burning, which were to be replaced from 
those manufactured by the nuns. But this was a trifle. 
The Pope's message having been promulgated in the 
Grey Nunnery, and to Catholics at large through the 
pulpits, an extraordinary demand was created for wax 
candles, to supply which we were principally depended 
upon. AH who could he employed in making them 
were therefore Bet to work, and T, among the ret>t, as- 
sisted in different departments, and witnessed ail. v 


Numbers of the nuns had been long familiar with 
the business; for u very considerable amount of wax 
had been annually manufactured in the Convent; but 
now the works were much extended, and other occu- 
pations in a great degree laid aside. Large quantities 
of wax were received into the building, which wa* 
said to have been imported from England: kettles 
were placed in some of the working-roomg, in which 
it was clarified by heat over coal fires, and when pre- 
pared, the process of dipping commenced. The wicks, 
which were quite long, were placed, hanging upon a 
reel, taken up and dipped in succession, until after 
many slow revolutions of the reel, the candles were 
of the proper size. They were then taken to a part 
of the room where tables were prepared for rolling 
them smooth. This is done by passing a roller over 
thern, until they become even and polished; after 
which they are laid by for sale. These processes caused 
a constant bustle in some of the rooms: and the 
melancholy reports from without, of the ravages of the 
cholera, with the uncertainty of what might be the 
result with us, notwithstanding the promised interces- 
sion of the Virgin, and brilliant lights constantly burn- 
ing in such numbers around us, impressed the scenes 
I used to witness very deeply on my mind. I had very 
little doubt of the strict truth of the story we had heard 
of the security conferred upon those who burnt candles, 
and yet sometimes serious fears arose in my mind. 
These thoughts I did my utmost to regard as great 
•ins, and evidences of my want of faith. 

It was during that period that I formed a partial 
acquaintance with several Grey Nuns, who used to 
come frequently for supplies of candles for their 
Convent. I had no opportunity to converse with them, 
except so far as the purchase and sale of the articles 
they required. I became familiar with their counte- 
nances and appearance, but was unable to judge of 
tUmi* characters or feelings Concerning the rules and 


habits prevailing {» the Grey Nunnery, I therefore 
remained ea ignorant na if 1 had been a thousand miles 
off: and they had no better opportunity to learn any- 
thing of us, beyond what they could see around them 
in the room where the candles were sold. 

We supplied the Congregatioaai Nunnery also with 
wax candles, as I before remarked; and in both these 
institutions, it was understood, a constant illumination 
was kept up. Citizens were also frequently running in 
to buy candles in great and small quantities, so that the 
business of store-keeping was far more laborious than 

We were confirmed in our faith in the intercession of 
the Virgin, when we found that we remained safe from 
cholera ; and it is a remarkable fact, that not one case 
of that disease existed in the Nunnery, during either of 
the seasons in which it proved so fatal in the city. 

When the election riots prevailed at Montreal, the 
city was thrown into general alarm; we heard some 
reports from day to day, which mada us anxious for 
ourselves. Nothing, however, gave me any §eriou6 
thoughts, until I 6aw uncommon movements in some 
parts of the Nunnery, and ascertained, to my own sat- 
isfaction, that there was a large quantity of gunpowder 
stored in some secret place within the walls, and that 
some of it was removed, or prepared for use, under the 
direction of the Superior. 

Penances. — I have mentioned several penances in 
different parts of tins narration, which we sometimes 
had to perform. There are a great variety of them; 
and, while some, though trifling in appearance became 
very painful, by long endurance or frequent repetition, 
others are severe in their nature, and never would be 
submitted to, unless, through fear of something worse, 
or a real belief in their eflicacy to remove guilt. I will 
mention here such as T recollect, which can be named 
without offending a virtuous ear: for some there were, 
which although I have been compelled to submit to, 


either by a misled conscience, or the fear of severe 
punishment, now that I am better able to judge of my 
duties, and at liberty to act, I would not mention or 

Kissing the floor is o very common penance; kneel- 
ing and kissing the feet of the other nuns is another ^ 
as are kneeling on hard peas, and walking with them 
in the shoes. We had repeatedly to walk on our knees 
through the subterranean passage, leading to the Con- 
gregational Nunnery; and sometimes to eat our meala 
with a rope round our necks. Sometimes we were fed 
only with such thing* as we most disliked. Garlic was 
given to me on this account, because I had a strong 
antipathy against it. 

Eels were repeatedly given some of us, because we 
felt an unconquerable repugnance to them, on account 
of reports we heard of their feeding on dead carcasses in 
the river St. I^awrence. It was no uncommon thing 
for us to be required to drink the water in which the 
Superior had washed her feet. Sometimes we were 
required to brand ourselves with a hot iron, so as to 
leave scars; at other times, to whip our naked flesh 
with several small rods, before a private altar, until we 
drew blood. I can assert with the perfect knowledge 
of the fact, that many of the nuns bear the scars of 
these wounds. 

One of the penances was to stand for a length of 
time with the arms extended, in imitation of the 
Saviour on the Cross. The Chimin ds la croix, or Road 
to the Cross, is. in fact, a penance, though it consists of 
a variety of prostrations, with the repetition of many 
prayers, occupying two or three hours. This we had 
to perform frequently going in chapel, and falling be- 
fore each chapel le in succession, at each time com- 
memorating some particular act or circumstance re- 
ported of the Saviour's progress to the place of his 
crucifixion. Sometimes we were obliged to sleep on 
the ftonr in the winter, with nothing over u» but a single 


•heet; and sometimes to chew a piece of window glass 
to a fine powder, in the presence of the Superior. 

We had sometimes to wear a leathern belt stuck full 
of sharp metallic points, round our waists and the upper 
part of our arms, bound on so tight that they pene- 
trated the flesh, and drew blood. 

Some of the penance3 were so severe, that they 
seemed too much to be endured; and when they were 
imposed, the nuns who were to suUer them showed the 
most violent repugnance. They would often resist, and 
still oftener express their opposition by exclamations 
and screams. 

Never, however, was any noise heard from them for 
a long time, for there was a remedy alwayB ready to be 
applied in cases of the kind. The gag which was put 
into the mouth of the unfortunate St. Frances, had 
been brought from a place were there were forty or fifty 
others of different shapes and sizes. These I have seen 
in their depository, which is a drawer between two 
closets, in one of the community-room*. Whenever 
any loud noise was made, one of these instruments was 
demanded, and gagging commenced at once. I have 
known many instances, and sometimes five or six nuns 
gagged at once. Sometimes, they would become so 
much excited before they could be bound and gagged, 
that considerable force was necessary to be exerted; 
and I have seen the blood flowing from mouths into 
which the gag had been thrust with violence. 

Indeed I ought to know something of this depart- 
ment of nunnery discipline: I have had it tried upon 
myself, and can bear witness that it is not only most 
humiliating and oppressive, but often extremely pain- 
ful. The mouth is kept forced open, and the straining 
of the jaws at their utmost stretch, for a considerable 
time, is very distressing . 

One of the worst punishments which I ever 6aw 
inflicted, was that with the cap; and yet eome of the 
old nnn» were permitted to inflict it at their pleasure 

MA11A MOfQL 128 

I kave repeatedly known them to go for a cap when 
one of our number has transgressed a rule, sometimes 
though it were a very unimportant one. These caps 
were kept in a cupboard in the old nuns' room, whence 
they were brought when wanted. 

They were small, made of a reddish looking leather, 
fitted closely to the head, and fastened under the chin 
with a kind of buckle. It was the common practice to 
tie the nun's hands behind, and gag her before the cap 
was put on, to prevent noise and resistance. I never 
saw it worn by any one for a moment, without throwing 
them Into severe sufferings. If permitted they would 
scream in the most shocking manner, and always 
writhed as much as their confinement would allow. I 
can speak from personal knowledge of this punishment, 
as I have endured it more than once; and yet I have 
no idea of the cause of the pain. I never examined one 
of the caps, nor saw the inside, for they are always 
brought and taken away quickly; but although the first 
sensation was that of coolness, it was hardly put on my 
head before a violent and indescribable sensation began, 
like that of a blister, only much more insupportable: 
and this continued until it was removed. It would 
produce such an acute pain as to throw us into con- 
vulsions, and I think no human being could endure it 
for an hour. After this punishment, we felt its effects 
through the system for many days. Having once 
known what it was by experience, I held the cap in 
dread, and whenever I was condemned to suffer the 
punishment again, felt ready to do anything to avoid it. 
But when tied and gagged, with the cap on my read 
again, I could only sink upon the floor, and roll about in 
anguish until it was taken of. 

This was usually done in about ten minutes, some- 
times lese, but the pain always continued in my head 
for several days. I thought that it might take away a 
person'* reason if kept on a much longer time. If I 
had not becD gagged. I am sure I should have uttered 


awful screams. I have felt the effects for a week. 
Sometimes fresh cabbage leaves were applied to my 
head to remove it. Having had no opportunity to ex- 
amine my head, I cannot say mora. 




THIS punishment wa* occasionally resorted to for 
very trifling offences, such as washing the hands 
without permission; and it was generally applied on 
the spot, and before the other nuns in the community- 

1 have mentioned before, that the country, so far 
down as Three Rivers, is furnished with priests by the 
Seminary of Montreal; and that these hundred and 
fifty men are liable to be occasionally transferred from 
one station to another. Numbers of them are often to 
be seen in the streets of Montreal, as they may find a 
home in the Seminary. 

They are considered a* having an equal right to 
euter the Black Nunnery whenever they please; and, 
then, according to our oaths, they have complete con- 
trol over the nuns. To name all the works of shame 
of which they are guilty in that retreat, would require 
much time and space, neither would it be necessary to 
the accomplishment of my object, which is, the publica- 
tion of but some of their criminality to the world, and 
the development in general terms of scenes thus far 
carried on in secret within the walls of that Convent 
where I was so long an inmate. 

Secure against detection by the world, they never 
believed that an eye-witness would ever escape to tell 
of their crimes, and declare some of their names before 
the world; but the time has come, and some of their 
deeds of darkness must come to the day. I have seen i« 

131 MAR! A MOMK. 

the Nunnery, the priests, from more, I presume, than a 
hundred country places, admitted for shameful and crim- 
inal purposes; "from St. Charles, St. Denis, St Mark's, 
St.Antoine, Chambly, Berthier, St, John's, Ac. 

How unexpected to them will he the disclosures I 
make! Shut up in a place from which there has been 
thought to be but one way of egress, and that the pas- 
sage to the grave, they considered themselves safe in 
perpetrating crimes in our presence, and in making 
victims would never reach the world for relief or redress 
us share in their criminality as often as they chose, and 
conducted more shamelessly than even the brutes. 

These debauchees would come in without ceremony, 
concealing their names, both by night and day. Being 
within the walls of that prison-house of death, where 
the cries and pains of the injured innocence of their 
for their wrongs, without remorse or shame, they 
would glory, not only in sating their brutal passions, 
but even in torturing in the most barbarous manner, 
the feelings of those under their power; telling us 
at the same time, that this mortifying the flesh was 
religion, and pleasing to God. The more they could 
torture us, or make us violate our own feelings, the 
more pleasure they took in their unclean revelling ; and 
all their brutal obscenity they called meritorious before 

We were sometimes invited to put ourselves to volun- 
tary sufferings in a variety of ways, not for a penance, 
but to show our devotion to God. A priest would some- 
times say to us — 

"Now, which of you have love enough for Jesus 
Christ to stick a pin through your cheeks ? ** 

Some of us would signify our readiness, and immedi- 
ately thrust one through up to the head. Sometimes he 
would propose that we should repeat the operation 
several times on the spot! and the cheeks of a number 
of the nuns would be bloody. 

There were other acts occasionally proposed and con- 

MARIA MOffX. 132 

tasted to, which I cannot name in a book. Such the 
Superior would sometimes command us to perform , 
many of them, things not only useless and unheard of, 
but loathsome and indecent in the highest possible 
degree. How they ever could have been invented I 
never could conceive. Things were done worse than 
the entire exposure of the person, though this was occa- 
sionally required of several at once in the presence of 

The Superior of the Seminary would sometimes come 
and inform us that she had received orders from the 
Pope, to request that those nuns who possessed the 
greatest devotion and faith, should be requested to per- 
form some particular deeds, which Bhe named or des- 
cribed in our presence, but of which no decent or moral 
person could ever endure to speak. I cannot speak what 
would injure any ear, not debased to the lowest possible 
degree. I am bound by a regard to truth, however, to 
confess that deluded women were found amongst us 
who would comply with their requests. 

There was a great difference between the characters 
of our old and new Superiors, which soon became 
obvious. The former used to say she liked to walk, 
because it would prevent her from becoming corpulent. 
She was, therefore, very active, and constantly going 
about from one part of the Nunnery to another over- 
seeing us at our various employments. I never saw in 
her any appearance of timidity; she seemed, on the 
contrary, bold and masculine, and sometimes much 
more than that, cruel and cold-blooded, in scenes cal- 
culated to overcome any common person. Such a char- 
acter she had particularly exhibited at the murder of 
St Frances. 

The new Superior, on the other hand, was so heavy 
and lame, that she walked with much difficulty, and 
consequently exercised a less vigilant oversight of the 
nuns. She was also of a timid disposition, or else had 
tym) overcome by Borne great fright in ber past life; 

for she was apt to become alarmed in the night, and 
never liked to be alone in the dark. She had long 
performed the part of an old nun, which is that of a 
spy upon the younger ones, and was well known to 
us in that character, under the name of St. Margarite. 
Soon after her promotion to the station of Superior, 
she appointed me to sleep in her apartment, and assign- 
ed me a sofa to lie upon. One night, while I was 
asleep, she suddenly threw herself upon me, and ex- 
claimed in great alarm, — 

"Oh, mon Dieu! mon Dieu! qu'estque ca?" (Oh! 
my God! my God! what is that?") 

I jumped up and looked about the room, but saw 
nothing, and endeavoured to convince her that there 
was nothing extraordinary there. But she insisted 
that a ghost had come and held her bed-curtain, so that 
she could not draw it. I examined it, and found that 
the curtain had been caught by a pin in the valence, 
which had held it back: but it was impossible to 
tranquillize her for some time. She insisted on my 
sleeping with her the rest of the night, and I stretched 
myself across the foot of her bed, and slept there till 

During the last part of my stay in the Convent, I 
was often employed in attending in the hospitals. There 
are, as I have before mentioned, several apartments 
devoted to the sick, and there is a physician of Mont- 
real, who attends as physician to the Convent. It must 
not be supposed, however, that he knows anything con- 
cerning the private hospitals. It is a fact of great im- 
portance to be distinctly understood, and constantly 
borne in mind, that he is never, under any circum- 
stances, admitted into the private hospital-rooms. Of 
those he sees nothing more than any stranger whatever. 
He is limited to the care of those patients who are 
admitted from the city into the public hospital, and 
one of the nuns' hospitals, and these he visits every dav. 
Sick poor are received for charity bv the institution, 


Attended by eome of the nuiiB, and often go away with 
the highest ideas of our charitable characters and holy 
lives. The physician himself might, perhaps, in some 
cases share in the delusion. 

I frequently followed Dr. Nelson through the public 
hospital, at the direction of the Superior, with pen, ink, 
and paper, in my hands, and wrote down the prescrip- 
tions which he ordered for the different patients. These 
were afterwards prepared and administered by the at- 

About a year before I left the Convent, I was first 
appointed to attend the private sick-rooms, and was 
frequently employed in that duty up to the day of my 
departure. Of course I had opportunities to observe 
the number and classes of patients treated there; and 
in what I am to say on the subject, I appeal, with 
perfect confidence, to any true and competent witness 
to confirm my words, whenever such a witness may 

It would be in vain for anybody who has merely 
visited the Convent from curiosity, or resided in it 
as a novice, to question my declarations. Such a 
person must necessarily be ignorant of even the ex- 
istence of the private rooms, unless informed by some 
one else. Such rooms, however, there are, and I could 
relate many things which have passed there during the 
hours I was employed in them, as I have stated. 

One night I was called to sit up with an old nun, 
named St. Claire, who, in going down stairs, had dis- 
located a limb, and lay in a sick-room adjoining the 
hospital. She seemed to be a little out of her head 
a part of the time, but appeared to be quite in pos- 
session of her reason most of the night. It was easy 
to pretend that she was delirious: but I considered her 
as speaking the truth, though I felt reluctant to repeat 
what I hear her say, and excused myself from mention- 
ing it even at confession, on the ground that the Sut- 
perior thought her deranged. 


What led tier to some of the most remarkable parti 
of her conversation was, a motion 1 made, in tht> course 
of the night, to take the light out of her little room 
into the adjoining apartment, to look once more at the 
sick persons there. She begged me not to leave her a 
moment in the dark, for she could not bear it. 

" I have witnessed so many horrid scenes," said she, 
"in this Convent, that I want somebody near me con- 
stantly, and must always have a light burning in my 
room. I cannot tell you," she added, " what things I 
remember, for they would frighten you too much. What 
you have seen are nothing to them. Many a murder 
have 1 witnessed; many a nice young creature has been 
killed in this Nunnery. I advise you to be very cau- 
tious — keep everything to yourself — there are many here 
ready to betray you." 

What it was that induced the old nun to express so 
much kindness to me I could not tell, unless she was 
frightened at the recollection of her own crimes, and 
those of others, and felt grateful for the care I took 
of her. She had been one of the night watchers, and 
never before showed me any particular kindness. She 
did not indeed go into detail concerning the transactions 
to which she alluded, but told me that some nuns had 
been murdered under great aggravations of cruelty, 
by being gagged, and left to starve in the cells, or 
having their flesh burned off their bones with red hot 

It was uncommon to find compunction expressed by 
any of the nuns. Habit renders us insensible to the 
sufferings of others, and careless about our own sins. I 
had become bo hardened myself, that I find it difficult 
to rid myself of many of my former false principles and 
views of right and wrong. 

T was one day set to wash some empty bottles from 
the cellar, which had contained the liquid that was 
poured into the cemetery there. A number of these 
had been brought from the corner where so many of 


them tvero always to be seen, and placed at tue head 
of the cellar stairs, and there we were required to take 
them, and wash them out. We poured in water and 
rinsed them; a few drops which got upon our clothes 
soon made holes in them. I think the liquid was called 
vitriol, or some such name, and I heard some persons 
say that it would soon destroy the flesh and even the 
bones of the dead. At another time, we were furnished 
with a little of the liquid, which was mixed with a 
quantity of water, and used in dyeing some cloth black, 
which was wanted at funerals in the chapels. Our 
hands were turned very black by being dipped in it, but 
a few drops of some other liquid were mixed with fresh 
water, and given us to wash in, which left our skin of a 
bright red. 

The bottles of which I spoke were made of very 
thick dark-coloured glass, large at the bottom, and, I 
should say, held something less than a gallon. 

I was once much shocked, on entering the room for 
the examination of conscience, at seeing a nun hanging 
by a cord from a ring in the ceiling, with her head 
downward. Her clothes had been tied round with a 
leathern strap, to keep them in their place, and then 
she had been fastened in that situation, with her head 
some distance from the floor. Her face had a very 
unpleasant appearance, being dark coloured, and 
swollen by the rushing ib 2$ the blood ; her hands were 
tied, and her mouth stopped with a large gag. This 
nun proved to be no other than Jane Ray, who for some 
fault had been condemned to this punishment. 

This was not, however, a solitary case; I heard of 
numbers who were "hung," as it was called, at different 
times ; and I saw St. Hypolite and St. Luke undergoing 
it. This was considered a most distressing punish- 
ment; and it was the only one which Jane Ray could 
not endure, of all she had tried. 

Some of the nuns would allude to it in her presence, 
but it usually made her angry. It va* probably 


practised in the same place while I was a novice, but I 
never heard or thought of such a thing in those clays. 
Whenever we wished to enter the room for the ex- 
amination of conscience, we had to ask leave, and, after 
some delay, were permitted to go, but always under a 
strict charge to bend the head forward, and keep tbe 
$yo* fixed upon the floor. 




IOFFEN seized an opportunity, when I safely could 
to speak a cheering or friendly word to one of the 
poor prisoners, in passing their cells, on my errands in 
the cellars. For a time I supposed them to be sisters; 
but I afterwards discovered that this was not the case. 
I found that they were always under the fear of suffer- 
ing some punishment, in case they should be found talk- 
ing with a person not commissioned to attend them. 
They would often ask, " Is not somebody coming V* 

I could easily believe what I heard affirmed by 
others, that fear was the severest of their sufferings. 
Confined in the dark, in so gloomy a place, with the 
long arched cellar stretching off this way and that, 
visited only now and then by a solitary nun, with whom 
they were afraid to speak their feelings, and with only 
the miserable society of each other; how gloomy thus 
to spend day after day, months, and even years, with- 
out prospect of liberation, and liable at any moment to 
another fate, to which the Bishop or Superior might 
condemn them! But these poor creatures must have 
known something of the horrors perpetrated in other 
pari? of the building, and could not have been ignorant 
of the hole in the cellar, which was not far from the 
cells, and the use to which it was devoted. One of 
thorn told me, in confidence, Bhe wished they could get 
out. They mnst also have been often disturbed in 
their sleep, if they ever did sleep, by the numerous 
priests who passed through <he trap d«wr *i no great 


distance. To be subject to such trials for & single day 
would be dreadful; but these nun* had them to endure 
for year*. 

I often felt much compassion for them, and wished to 
see them released; but at other times yielding to the 
doctrine perpetually taught us in the Convent, that our 
future happiness would be proportioned to the suffer- 
ings we had to undergo in this world, I would rest satis- 
fied that their imprisonment was a real blessing to them. 

Others, I presume, participated with me in such feel- 
ings. One Sunday afternoon, after we had performed 
all our ceremonies, and were engaged as usual, at that 
time, with backgammon and other amusements, one of 
the young nuns exclaimed, "Oh! how headstrong are 
those wretches in the cells, they are as bad as the day 
they were first put in I " 

This exclamation was made, as I supposed, in con- 
sequence of some recent conversation with them, as I 
knew her to be particularly acquainted with the older 

Some of the vacant cells were occasionally used for 
temporary imprisonment. Three nuns were confined in 
them, to my knowledge, for disobedience to the Su- 
perior, as she called it. They did not join the rest in 
singing in the evening, being exhausted in the various 
exertions of the day. The Superior ordered them to 
•ing: and, as they did not comply, after the command 
had been twice repeated, she ordered them away to the 

They were immediately taken down into the cellar, 
placed in separate dungeons, and the door shut and 
barred upon them. There they remained through that 
night, the following day and second night, but were 
released in time to attend mass on the second morning. 

The Superior used occasionally to show something 
in a glass box, which we were required to regard with 
the highest degree of reverence. It was made of wax, 
and called an Agnus Dei. She used to exhibit it to 


us when we were in a state of grace : that is, after con- 
fession and before sacrament. She said it had been 
blessed in the very dish in which our Saviour had eaten. 
It was brought from Rome. Every time we kissed it, 
or even looked at it, we were told it gave a hundred 
days' release from purgatory to ourselves, or if we did 
not need it, to our next of kin in purgatory, if not a 
Protestant. If we had no such kinsman, the benefit 
was to go to the souls in purgatory not prayed for. 

Jane Ray would sometimes say to me, " Let's kiss it — 
some of our friends will thank us for it." 

I have been repeatedly employed in carrying dainties 
of different kinds into the little private room I have 
mentioned, next beyond the Superior's sitting-room, in 
the second story which the priests made their " Holy 
Retreat." That room I never was allowed to enter. I 
could only go to the door with a waiter of refreshments, 
set it down upon a little stand near it, give three raps 
on the door, and then retire to a distance to await orders. 
When anything was to be taken away, it was placed on 
the stand by the Superior, who then gave three raps for 
me, and closed the door. 

The Bishop I saw at least once, when he appeared 
worse for wine, or something of the kind. After par- 
taking of refreshments in the Convent, he sent for all 
the nuns, and on our appearance, gave us his blessing, 
and put a piece of pound cake on the shoulder of each 
of us, in a manner which appeared singular and foolish. 

There are three rooms in the Black Nunnery, which 
I never entered. I had enjoyed much liberty, and 
had seen, as I supposed, all parts of the building, when 
one day I observed an old nun go to a corner of an 
apartment near the northern end of the western wing, 
push the end of her scissors into a crack in the panelled 
wall, and pull out a dooi. I was much surprised, 
because I never had conjectured that any door was 
there ; and it appeared, when I afterwards examined 
the place, that no indication of it could be discovered 


on the closest scrutiny. I stepped forward to see what 
was within, and saw three rooms opening into each 
other : but the nun refused to admit me within the door, 
which she said led to rooms kept as depositories. 

She herself entered and closed the door, so that I 
could not satisfy my curiosity; and no occasion pre- 
sented itself. I always had a strong desire to know 
the use of these apartments; for I am sure they must 
have been designed for some purpose of which I was 
intentionally kept ignorant, otherwise they never would 
have remained unknown to me so long. Besides, the 
old nun evidently had some strong reason for denying 
me admission, though she endeavoured to quiet nty 

The Superior, after my admission into the Convent, 
had told me I had access to every room in the build- 
ing; and I had seen places which bore witness to the 
cruelties and the crimes committed under her com- 
mands or sanction; but here was a succession of room* 
which had been concealed from me, and so constructed 
as if designed to be unknown to all but a few. I am 
sure that any person, who might be able to examine the 
wall in that place, would pronounce that secret door a 
surprising piece of work. I never saw anything of the 
kind which appeared to me so ingenious and skilfully 
made. I told Jane Ray what I had seen, and she said 
at once, u We will get in and see what is there." But I 
suppose she never found an opportunity. 

I naturally felt a good deal of curiosity to learn 
whether such scenes, as I had witnessed in the death of 
St. Frances, were common or rare, and took an oppor- 
tunity to enquire of Jane Ray. Her reply was — 

u Oh yes : and there were many murdered while yon 
were a novice, whom you heard nothing about." 

This was all I ever learnt on this subject; but al- 
though I was told nothing of the manner in which they 
were killed, I suppose it to be the same which I had 
seen practised, namely, by smothering. 


I went into the Superior's parlour one day for some- 
thing, and found Jane Ray there alone, looking into a 
book with an appearance of interest. I asked her what 
it was, but she made some trifling answer, and laid it 
by as if unwilling to let me take it. There are two 
bookcases in the room ; one on the right as you enter 
the door, and the other opposite, near the window and 
the sofa. The former contains the lecture-books and 
other printed volumes, the latter seemed to be filled 
with note and account books. I have often seen the 
keys in the bookcases while I have been dusting the 
furniture, and sometimes observed letters stuck up in 
the room ; although I never looked into one, or thought 
of doing so. We were under strict orders not to touch 
any of them, and the idea of sins and penances was 
always present with me. 

Some time after the occasion mentioned, I was sent 
into the Superior's room with Jane, to arrange it ; and 
as the same book was lying out of the case, she said, 
" Come let us look into it." I immediately consented, 
and we opened it, and turned over several leaves. It 
was about a foot and a half long, as nearly as I can 
remember, a foot wide, and about two inches thick, 
though I cannot speak with particular precision, as Jane 
frightened me almost as soon as I touched it, by ex- 
claiming, " There, you have looked into it, and if you 
tell of me, I will of you." 

The thought of being subjected to a severe penance, 
which I had reason to apprehend, fluttered me very 
much : and, although I tried to cover my fears, I did 
not succeed very well. I reflected, however, that the 
sin was already committed, and that it would not be 
increased if I examined the book. 

I therefore looked a little at several pages, though I 
still felt a good deal of agitation. I saw at once that 
the volume was a record of the entrance of nuns and 
novices into the Convent, and of the births that had 
taken place in the Convent. Entries of the last des- 


eription were made in a brief manner, on the following 
plan : I do not give the names or dates as real, but only 
to nhow the form of entering them, 

Faint Mary, delivered of a son, March 16, 1834. 
Saint Clarice u daughter, April 2. 

Saint Matilda, * daughter, April 30, <tc 

No mention was made in the book of the death of 
the children, though I well knew not one of them could 
be living at that time. 

Now I presume that the period the book embraced 
was about two yearB, as several names near the begin- 
ning I knew: but I can form only a rough conjecture 
of the number of infants born, and murdered, of course, 
records of which it contained. I suppose the book 
contained at least one hundred pages, and one fourth 
were written upon, and that each page contained fifteen 
distinct records. Several pages were devoted to flhe list 
of births. On this supposition there must have been a 
large number, which I can easily believe to have been 
born there in the course of two years. 

What were the contents of the other books belonging 
to the same case with that which I looked into, I have 
no idea, having never dared to touch one of them; I 
believe, however, that Jane Eay was well acquainted 
with them, knowing, as I do. her intelligence and prying 
disposition. If she could be brought to give her tes- 
timony, she would doubtless unfold many curious par- 
ticulars now unknown. 

I am able, in consequence of a circumstance which 
appeared accidental, to state with confidence the exact 
number of persons in the Convent one day of the week 
in which I left it. This may be a point of some interest, 
as several deaths have occurred Rince my taking the veil, 
and many burials had been openly made in the chapel. 

I was appointed, at the time mentioned, to lay out 
the covers for all the inmates of the Convent, including 


the nuns in the cells. These covers, ag i have said 
before, were linen bands, to be bound around the 
knives, forks, spoons, and napkins, for eating. These 
were for all the nuns and novices, and amounted to two 
hundred and ten. As the number of novices was then 
about thirty, I know that there must have been at that 
time about one hundred and eighty veiled nuns. 

I was occasionally troubled with a desire of escaping 
from the Nunnery, and was much distressed whenever I 
felt so evil an imagination rise in my mind. I believed 
that it was a sin, a great sin, and did not fail to confess, 
at every opportunity, that I felt discontented. My con- 
fessors informed me that I was beset with evil spirits, 
and urged me to pray against it Still, however, every 
now and then, I would think, " Oh, if I could get out." 

At length one of the priests to whom I had confessed 
this sin, informed me, for my comfort, that he had 
begun to pray to Saint Anthony, and hoped his inter- 
cession would, by-and-by, drive away the evil spirit 
My desire of escape was partly excited by the fear of 
bringing an infant to the murderous hands of my com- 
panions, or of taking a potion whose violent effects l 
too well knew. 

One evening, however, I found myself more filled 
with a desire of escape than ever : and what exertions I 
made to diminish the thought proved entirely unavail- 
ing. During evening prayers, I became quite occupied 
with it; and when the time of meditation arrived, in- 
stead of falling into a doze, as I often did, though I was 
a good deal fatigued, I found no difficulty in keeping 
awake. When the exercise was over, and the other nuns 
were about to retire to the sleeping-room, my station 
being in the private sick-room for the night, I withdrew 
to my post, which was the little sitting-room adjoin- 
ing it. 

Here, then, I threw myself upon the sofa, and being 
alone, reflected a few moments on the manner of 
escaping which had occurred to me. The physician 

14$ KAKIA M030L 

had arrived a little before, at half -past eight ; and I had 
to accompany him as usual from bed to bed, with pen, 
ink, and paper, to write down his prescriptions for tha 
direction of the old nun, who was to see them adminis- 

What I wrote on that evening, I cannot now recollect, 
as my mind was uncommonly agitated: but my custom- 
ary way was to note down briefly his orders, in this 
manner — 

1 d. salts, St. Matilda, 

1 blister, St. Genevieve, <fta 

I remember that I wrote three orders that evening, 
and then having finished the rounds, I returned for a 
few moments to the sitting-room. 

There were two ways of access to the street from 
these rooms; first, the more direct, from the passage 
adjoining the sick-room down stairs, through a door, 
into the Nunnery yard, and through a wicker gate: 
that is the way by which the physician usually enters 
at night, and he is provided with a key for that purpose. 

It would have been unsafe, however, for me to pass 
out that way. because a man is kept continually in the 
yard, near the gate, who sleeps at night in a small hut 
near the door, to escape whose observation would be 
impossible. My only hope, therefore, was that T might 
gain my passage through the other way, to do which I 
must pass through the sick-room, then through a pas- 
sage or small room usually occupied by an old nun; 
another passage and staircase leading down to the yard, 
and a large gate opening into the cross street. I had 
no liberty to go beyond the sick-room, and knew that 
several of the doors might be fastened ; still T determin- 
ed to try; although I have often since been astonished 
at my boldness in undertaking what would expose me 
to so many hazards of failure, and to severe punishment 
if found out. 

Tt seemed as if I acted under some extraordinary ira- 


puke, which encouraged nw to what I should hardly 
at any other moment have thought of undertaking. 1 
b*d sat hut a short time upon the sofa, however, 
before 1 rose with a desperate determination to make 
the experiment, 1 therefore walked hastily across the 
«ck-room, passed into the nun's room, walked by in 
a great hurry, and almost without giving her time to 
speak or think, said, " A message," and in an instant 
was through the door, and in the next passage. I 
think there was another nun with her at the moment; 
and it is probable that my hurried manner, and prompt 
intimation that I was sent on a pressing mission to the 
Superior, prevented them from entertaining any sus- 
picion of my intention. Besides, I had the written 
orders of the physician in my hand, which may have 
tended to mislead them; and it was well known to 
•ome of the nuns that I had twice left the Convent, and 
returned from choice, so that I was probably more 
likely to be trusted to remain than many of the others. 

The passage which I had now reached had several 
doors, with all which I was acquainted; that on the 
opposite side opened into a community-room, where I 
should probably have found some of the old nuns at 
that hour, and they would certainly have stopped me. 
On the left, however, was a large door, both locked and 
barred : but I gave the door a sudden swing, that it 
might creak as little as possible, being of iron. Down 
the stairs I hurried, and making my way through the 
door into the yard, stepped across it, unbarred the f?«*i 
gate, and was at liberty f 



THE following circumstances comprise all that \» 
deemed necessary now to subjoin to the preceding 

After my arrival in New York, I wa* introduced to 
the alms-house, where I was attended with kindness and 
care, and, as I hoped, was entirely unknown. But when 
I had been some time in that institution, I found that 
it was reported that I was a fugitive nun; and not long 
after, an Irish woman, belonging to the house, brought 
me a secret message which caused me some agitation. 

I was sitting in the room of Mrs. Johnson, the matron, 
engaged in sewing, when that Irish woman, employed 
in the institution, came in and told me that Mr. Conroy 
waa below, and had sent to see me. I was informed 
that he was a Roman Priest, who often visited the house, 
and he had a particular wish to see me at that time; 
having come, as I believed, erpressly for that purpose. 
I showed unwillingness to comply with such an invita- 
tion, and did not go. 

The woman told me, further, thai he sent me word 
that I need not think to avoid him, for it would be im- 
possible for me to do so. I might conceal myself as 
well as I could, hut I should be found and taken. 
No matter where I went, or what hiding place I might 
choose, I should be known; and I had better come at 
once. He knew who I was : 8nd he was authorised 
to take me to the Sisters of Charity, if I should prefer 
to join them. He would promise that I might stay 
with them if I choose, and be permitted to remain in 
New York. He sent m* irord further that he had 
received full power and authority over me from the 
Superior of the Hotel Pieu Nunnery a* Montreal, and 
was able to do all that she could do; as her right to 


dispose of me at her will had been imparted to hint 
by a regular writing received from Canada. This was 
alarming information for me, in the weakness in which 
I was at that time. The woman added, that the au- 
thority had been given to all the priests; so that go 
where I might I should meet men informed about me 
and my escape, and fully empowered to seize me when- 
ever they could, and convey me back to the Convent 
from which I had escaped. 

Under these circumstances, it seemed to me that 
the offer to place me among the Sisters of Charity with 
permission to remain in New York, was mild and favour- 
aole. However, I had resolution enough to refuse to see 
priest Conroy. 

Not long afterwards I was informed, by the same 
messenger, that the priest was again in the building, 
and repeated his request. I desired one of the gentle 
men connected with the institution, that a stop might 
be put to such messages, as I wished to receive no more 
of them. A short time after, however, the woman told 
me that Mr. Conroy wished to enquire of me, whether 
my name was not Saint Eustace while a nun, and if 
I had not confessed to Priest Kelly in Montreal. I 
answered, that it was all true; for I had confessed to 
him a short time while in the Nunnery. I was then 
told again that the priest wanted to see me, and I sent 
back word that I would 6ee him in the presence of Mr. 

T or Mr. S ; which, however, was not agreed 

to; and I was afterwards informed that Mr. Conroy, 
the Roman priest, spent an hour in the room and a 
passage where I had frequently been; but, through the 
mercy of God, T was employed at another place at that 
time, and had no occasion to go where I should have 
met him. I afterwards repeatedly heard that Mr. Con- 
roy continued to visit the house, and to ask for me; 
bnt I never saw him. I once had determined to leave 
the institution, and go to the Siatfrn of Charity; but 
circumstances occurred which gave me time for further 

149 MARIA MOW*. 

reflection : and I was saved from the destruction to which 
I should have been exposed. 

As the period of my acconchment approached, I 
sometimes thought that I should not survive it; and 
then the recollection of the dreadful crimes I had 
witnessed in the Nunnery would come upon me very 
powerfully, and I would think it a solemn duty to dis- 
close them before I died. To have a knowledge of those 
things, and leave the world without making them known, 
appeared to me like a great sin, whenever I could divest 
myself of the impression made upon me by the declara- 
tions and arguments of the Superior, nuns, and priests, 
of the duty of submitting to everything, and the neces- 
sary holiness of whatever they did or required. 

The evening but one before the period which I 
anticipated with so much anxiety, I was sitting alone, 
and began to indulge in reflections of this kind. It 
seemed to me that I must be near the close of my life, 
and I determined to make a disclosure at once. I spoke 
to Mrs. Ford, a woman whose character I respected, a 
nurse in the hospital, number twenty-three. I informed 
her that I had no expectation of living long, and had 
some things on my mind which I wished to communi- 
cate before it should be too late. I added, that I should 

prefer telling them to Mr. T , the chaplain; of 

which she approved, as she considered it a duty to do 
so, under those circumstances. I had no opportunity, 
however, to converse with Mr. T. at that time, and, 
probably, my purpose of disclosing the facts already 
given in this book, would never have been executed, 
but for what subsequently took place. 

It was alarm which led me to form such a determina- 
tion ; and when the period of trial had been safely 
passed, and I had a prospect of recovery, anything ap- 
peared to me more unlikely than that I should maka 
this exposure. 

I was then a "Roman Catholic, at least a great part 
of my time; and my conduct, in « great measure, was 


according to the faith and motives of a Roman Catholic. 
Notwithstanding what I knew of the conduct of so many 
of the priests and nuns, I thought that it had no effect 
on the sanctity of the Church, or the authority or effect* 
of the acts performed by the former at the mass, con- 
fession, &c. I had such a regard for my vows as a nun, 
that I considered my hand as well as my heart irrevoc- 
ably given to Jesus Christ, and could never have allowed 
any person to take it. Indeed, to this day, I feel an 
instinctive aversion of offering my hand, or taking the 
hand of another person, even as an expression of friend- 

1 also thought that I might soon return to the Catho- 
lics, although fear and disgust held me back. I had 
now that infant to think for, whose life I had happily 
saved by my timely escape from the Nunnery; what its 
fate might be, in case it should ever fall into the power 
of the priests, I could not tell. 

I had, however, reason for alarm. Would a child, 
destined to destruction, like the infants I had seen 
baptised and smothered, be allowed to go through the 
world unmolested, a living memorial of the truth of 
crimes long practised in security, because never ex- 
posed? What pledges could I get to satisfy me, that 
I, on whom her dependence must be, wouW be spared 
by those who, I had reason to think, were wishing then 
to sacrifice me? How could I trust the helpless infant 
in hands which had hastened the baptism of many such 
in order to hurry them into the secret pit in the cellar? 
Could I suppose that Father Phelan, Priest of the Parish 
Church of Montreal, would see his own child growing up 
in the world, and feel willing to run the risk of having 
the truth exposed? What could I expect, especially 
from him, but the utmost rancour, and the most deter- 
mined enmity, against the innocent child and its abused 
and defenceless mother? 

Yet, my mind would sometimes still incline in the 
opposite direction, and indulge the thought, that per- 


hap* the only way to secure heaTen to u» both ww to 
throw ourselves back into the hands of the Church, 
to be treated as she pleased. When, therefore, the fear 
of immediate death was removed, I renounced all 
thoughts of communicating the substance of the facts 
of this volume. It happened, however, that my danger 
was not passed. I was soon seized with very alarming 
symptoms; then my desire to disclose my story revived. 

I had before had an opportunity to speak in private 
with the chaplain; but, as it was at a time when I sup- 
posed myself out of danger, I had deferred for three 
days my proposed communication, thinking that I might 
yet avoid it altogether. When my symptoms, however, 
became more alarming, I was anxious for Saturday to 
arrive, the day which I had appointed ; and when I had 
not the opportunity, on that day, which I desired, I 
thought it might be too late. I did not see him till 
Monday, when my prospects of surviving were very 
gloomy, and I then informed him that I wished to com- 
municate to him a few secrets, which were likely other- 
wise to die with me. I then told him, that while a nun, 
in the Convent of Montreal, I had witnessed the murder 
of a nun, called Saint Frances, and of at least one of the 
infants which I have spoken of in this book. I added 
some few circumstances, and I believe disclosed, in 
general terms, some of the crimes I knew of in that 

My anticipations of death proved to be unfounded ; 
for my health afterwards improved, and had I not made 
the confessions on that occasion, it is very possible I 
never might have made them. I, however, afterwards 
felt more willing to listen to instruction, and experienced 
friendly attentions from some of the benevolent persons 
flround me, who, taking an interest in me on account of 
my darkened understanding, furnished me with the 
Bible, and were ever ready to counsel me when I desired 

I soon began to believe that God might have intended 


that Hie creatures should learn His will by reading Hit 
Word, and taking upon them the free exercise of their 
reason, and acting under responsibility to Him. 

It is difficult for one who has never given way to 
such arguments and influences as those to which 1 had 
been exposed, to realize how hard it is to think aright, 
after thinking wrong. The Scriptures always affect me 
powerfully when I read them ; but I feel that I have but 
just begun to learn the great truths, in which I ought to 
have been early and thoroughly instructed. I realize, 
in some degree, how it is, that the Scriptures render the 
people of the United States so strongly opposed to 
such doctrines as are taught in the Black and Congre- 
gational Nunneries of Montreal. The priests and nuns 
used often to declare that of all heretics the children 
from the United States were the most difficult to be 
converted; and it was thought a great triumph when 
wie of them was brought over to u the true faith." The 
Brst passage of Scripture that made any serious impres- 
lion upon my mind, was the text on which the chaplain 
preached on the Sabbath after my introduction to the 
house — " Search the Scriptures." 


Confirming Maria Monk's Disclosures. 

The following Certificate is copied from the 
Protestant Vindicator, March, 1836. 

WE, the Subscribers, have an acquaintance with 
Miss Maria Monk, and having considered the 
evidence of different kinds which has been collected in 


relation to her case, have no hesitation in declaring oui 
belief in the truth of the Statements fche makes in her 
book, recently published in New York, entitled " Awful 
Disclosures," &c. 

"We at the name time declare that the assertion, 
originally made in the Roman Catholic Newspapers of 
Boston, that the book was copied from a work entitled 
'The Gates of Hell Opened/ is wholly destitute of 
foundation; it being entirely new, and not copied from 
anything whatsoever. 

"And we further declare, that no evidence has been 
produced which discredits the statements of Miss Monk ; 
while, on the contrary, her story has yet received, and 
continues to receive, confirmation from various sources. 

" During the last week, two important witnesses spon- 
taneously appeared, and offered to give public testimony 
in her favour. From them the following delineations 
have been received. The first is an affidavit given by 
Mr. William Miller, now a resident of this city. The 
second is a statement received from a young married 
woman, who, with her husband, alBO resides here. In 
the clear and repeated statements made by these two 
witnesses, we place entire reliance, who are ready to 
furnish satisfaction to any persons making reasonable 

enquiries on the subject. 

"W. C. Brownree." "Amos Belden," "John J. 
Slocum," "David Wesson," "Andrew Brucx" 
"Thomas Hogan," "D. Fanshaw." 

From the American Protestant Vindicator. 

T T was expected that. cfteT Maria MonVs disci* 

-*- sures, an artful attempt would be made to inval> 

date her testimony — which was done secretly after hei 


t*cape from the Hotel Dieu Nunnery, by «o altering 
the appearance of that institution by planking, and 
bricking, and atoning, as to deceive Col. Stone, "who 
wan then requested to examine it for himself and the 
world. The Col. misrepresented what he saw, he was 
deceived regarding those alterations by the inmates, 
who dragged him, n* it were, by force through the build- 
ing during his examination, which was performed in 
the amazing short space of a few hours. But time 
is the grand unraveller of mysteries. On the appear- 
ance of the book of Miss Monk, the hoodwinked 
people of Montreal were so surprised and stupefied at 
finding that the immaculate purity of the Hotel Dieu 
had bern so disparaged, that they forgot to think 
seriously on the subject — but, understanding that the 
story had gained almost general belief abroad, they, at 
last, were led to conjecture that perhaps it was parti- 
ality that prevented them from believing it at home. 
General attention, therefore, in Montreal, waa directed 
towards that edifice — and those residing in its immedi- 
ate vicinity cast a retrospective glance over what they 
had seen transacted there, between the time at which 
the ' Disclosures ' were published, and the visit of Col. 
Stone. The result of this investigation has been largely 
given on the spot to the Rev. Jas. P. Miller, of New 
York, who visited that city for the purpose of hearing 
that the truth was gradually coming to light. The 
neighbours informed Mr. Miller that about the time 
it was rumoured that she had exposed the institution, a 
mysterious pile of planks, twenty-five feet in height, 
had been placed mysteriously in the yard, which were 
wonderfully and gradually used in progressing some im- 
provements in the building— for they were neither em- 
ployed outside nor hauled away. 

Who fever may be the fact with regard to Maria Monk's 
alVged disclosures, those of our people who have read 
your paper*, are satisfied in one point: that Mr. Stoned 


credibility as a witness has been successfully impeached; 
that his examination of the Nunnery was a mere sham ; 
that he was either the dupe of Jesuitical imposture, or 
that he himsef is a fond imposter; that he has been 
unwillingly or ignorantly befooled; and unless he ha* 
had a tangible reward, that he has * got his labour for 
his pains.' 

" Whatever may be the facts in relation to those 
'disclosures,' we needed not your paper to satisfy us 
either that Jesuits must be as holy as the 'Blessed 
Virgin Mother ' herself, or those conventicles of unpro- 
tected females are scenes of the most damning char- 
acter.— A Protestant." 


From the Long Island Star, of Feb. 29th. 

INCE the publication of our last paper, we have 
received a communication from Messrs. Howe 

and Bates, of New York, the publishers of Misg 
Monk's 'Awful Disclosures.' It appears that some 
influence has been at work in that city, adverse to the 
free examination of the case between her and the priests 
of Canada; for thus far the newspapers have been most 
entirely closed against everything in her defence, whilst 
most of them have published false charges against the 
book, some of a preposterous nature, the contradiction 
of which is plain and palpable. 

"Returning to New York, she then first resolved to 
publish her story, which she has recently done, after 
several intelligent disinterested persons had satisfied 
themselves by much examination that it is true. 

" When it became known in Canada that this was her 
intention, six affidavits were published in some of the 
newspapers, intended to destroy confidence in her char- 
acter; but these were found very contradictory in several 
important points, and in others to afford undesigned 
confirmation of statements before made by her. 

"On the publication of her book, the New York 


Catholic Diary, the Truth-teller, the Green Banner, and 
other papers, made virulent attacks upon it, and one of 
them proposed that the publishers should be 'lynched.' 
An anonymous handbill was also circulated in New 
York, declaring the work a malignant libel, got up by 
Protestant clergymen, and promising an ample refuta- 
tion of it in a few days. This was re-published in the 
Catholic Diary, with the old Montreal affidavits, which 
were distributed through New York and Brooklyn; and 
on the authority of these, several Protestant newspapers 
denounced the work as false and malicious. 

"Another charge, quite inconsistent with the rest, 
was made by the leading Roman Catholic papers and 
others, viz., that it was a mere copy of an old European 
work. This had been promptly denied by the pub- 
lishers with the offer of 100 dollars reward for any book 
at all resembling it. 

" Yet such is the resolution of some, and the unbelief 
of others, that it is impossible for the publishers to 
obtain insertions for the replies in the New York papert 
generally, and they have been unsuccessful in an at- 
tempt at Philadelphia. 

"This is the ground on which the following article 
has been offered to us, for publication in the Star. It 
was offered to Mr. Schneller, a Roman Priest, and 
Editor of the Catholic Diary, for insertion in his paper 
of Saturday before last, but refused, although written 
expressly as an answer to the affidavits and charges his 
previous number had contained. This article has been 
refused insertion in a Philadelphia paper, after it had 
been satisfactorily ascertained that there was no hope 
of gaining admission for it into any of the New York 

" It should be stated, in addition, that the authoress of 
the book, Maria Monk, is in New York, and stands 
ready to answer any questions, and submit to any 
enquiries put in a proper manner, and desires nothing 
w strongly as an opportunity to prove before a court 


the truth of her story. She has already found person* 
of respectability who have confirmed some of the facta, 
important and likely to be attested by concurrent evi- 
dence; and much further testimony in her favour may 
be soon expected. 

* With these facts before them, intelligent readers will 
judge for themselves. She asks for investigation, while 
her opponents deny her every opportunity to meet th§ 
charges made against her. Mr. Schneller, after ex- 
pressing a wish to see her, to the publishers, refused 
to meet her anywhere, unless in his own house; while 
Mr. Quarter, another Roman Catholic priest, called to 
see her, at ten o'clock one night, accompanied by another 
man, without giving their names, and under the false 
pretence of being bearers of a letter from her brothei 
in Montreal " 



I HAVE but a confused idea of the manner in which 
I got through 6ome of the doors; several of them, 
I am confident, were fastened, and one or two I fastened 
behind me But I was now in the street, and what 
wm to be done next ? T bad got my liberty : hut wher* 


ihould I gof It was dark, 1 was in great danger, go 
which way 1 would; and for a moment, I thought I had 
been unwise to leave the Convent. If I could return 
unobserved, would it not be better? But summoning 
resolution, 1 turned to the left, and ran some distance 
up the street; then reflecting that I had better take the 
opposite direction, I returned under the same convent 
walls, and ran as fast down to St. Paul's street, then 
turning up towards the north, exerted all my strength, 
and fled for my life. It was a cold evening, but I stopped 
for nothing, having recollected the house where I had 
been put to board for a short time, by the priest Roque, 
when prepared to enter the convent as a novice, and 
resolved to seek a lodging there for the night. Thither 
I went It seemed as if I flew rather than ran. It was 
by that time so dark that I was able to see distinctly 
through the low windows, by the light within; and had 
the pleasure to find that she was alone with her children. 
I, therefore, went boldly to the door, was received with 
readiness, and entered to take up my lodgings there 
once more. 

Here I changed my nun's dress for one less likely to 
excite observation; and having received a few dollars 
in addition to make up the difference, I retired to rest, 
determined to rise early and take the morning steam- 
boat for Quebec. I knew that my hostess was a friend 
of the Superior, as I have mentioned before, and pre- 
tnmed that it would not be long before 6he would give 
information against me. I knew, however, that she 
could not gain admittance to the convent very early, and 
felt safe in remaining in the house through the night 

But after I had retired 1 fmind it impossible to sleep, 
and the night appeared very long. In the morning 
early, I requested that the son of the woman might 
accompany me to the boat, which he did. At an early 
hour, therefore, I walked to the Bteamboat, but. learnt, 
to my regret, that it would not go before night. Fear- 
ing that I might fall into the hands of the priests, and 


\vi carried back to the nunnery, and not knowing where 
to go, I turned away, and determined to seek some 
retired spot immediately. I walked through a part of 
the city, and some distance on the Lachine roa<3, 
when finding a solitary place, I seated myself in inuch 
distress of mind, both fearful and anxious, beyond my 
power of description. I could not think myself safe 
anywhere in the neighbourhood of Montreal ; for th« 
priests were numerous, and almost all the people were 
entirely devoted to them. They would be very desiroui 
of finding me, and, as I believed, would make great ex- 
ertions to get me again in their hands. 

It was a pleasant spot where I now found myself, and 
as the weather was not uncomfortable in the day time, 
I had nothing to trouble me except my recollection! 
and fears. As for the want of food, that gave me not 
the slightest uneasiness, as I felt no inclination what- 
ever to eat. The uncertainty and doubts I continually 
felt, kept me in a state of irresolution the whole day. 
What Bhould I do? Where should I go? I had not a 
friend in the world to whom I could go with confidence; 
while my enemies were numerous, and, it seemed to 
me, all around me, and ready to seize me. I thought of 
my uncle, who lived at a distance of five miles; and 
sometimes I almost determined to set off immediately 
for his house. I had visited it often when a child, and 
have been received with the utmost kindness. T remem- 
bered that I had been a great favourite of his ; but some 
considerations would arise which discouraged me from 
looking for safety in that direction. The steamboat was 
to depart in a few hours. I could venture to pass 
through the city once more by twilight; and if once 
arrived at Quebec, I should be at a great distance from 
the nunnery, in a large city, and among a larger pro- 
portion of Protestant inhabitants. Among them I 
might find friends, or, at least, some sort of protection; 
and I had no doubt that I could support myself by la- 


Then I thought again of the place I had left; the 
kindness and sympathy, 6inali though they were, which 
I had found in some of my late companions in the 
convent; the awful mortal sin I had committed in 
breaking my vows; and the terrible punishments I 
should receive if taken as a fugitive and carried back. 
If I should return voluntarily, and ask to be admitted 
again: what would the Superior say, how would she 
treat me? Should I. be condemned to any very severe 
penance? Might I not, at least, escape death? But 
then there was one consideration that would now and 
then occur to me, which excited the strongest determina- 
tion never to return. I was to become a mother, and 
the thought of witnessing the murder of my own child 
was more than I could bear. 

Purgatory was doubtless my portion; and perhaps 
hell forever — such a purgatory and hell as are painted 
in the convent: but there was one hope for me yet. 

I might confess all my deadly sins sometime before I 
died, and a Bishop could pardon the worst of them. 

This was good Catholic doctrine, and I rested upon 
it with so much hope, that I was not quite driven to 

In reflections like these I spent the whole day, afraid 
V> stray from the secluded spot to which I had retreated, 
though at different times forming momentary plans to 
leave it, and go in various directions. I ate not a 
morsel of food, and yet felt no hunger. Had I been 
well provided, I could have tasted nothing in such a 
state of mind. The afternoon wasted away, the sun set, 
and darkness began to come on. I rose and set off 
again for the city. I passed along the streets unmolest- 
ed by anyone; and reached it a short time before the 
boat was ready to start 



SOON after we left the shore., the captain, whom I 
had previously seen, appeared to recognize ine. 

He came up and inquired if I was not the daughter 
of my mother, mentioning her name. I had long been 
taught and accustomed to deceive; and it may be sup- 
posed that in such a case I did not hesitate to deny the 
truth, hoping that I might avoid being known, and fear- 
ing to be defeated in my object He, however, per- 
sisted that he knew me, and said that he must insist on 
my returning with him to Montreal, adding that I must 
not leave his boat to land at Quebec. 1 6aid but little 
to him, but intended to go on shore if possible, at the 
end of our journey — a thing I had no doubt I might 

When we reached Quebec, however, I found, to my 
chagrin, that the ladies' maid carefully locked the cabin 
door while I was in, after the ladies had left it, who 
were six or eight in number. 

I said little, and made no attempts to resist the 
restriction put upon me, but secretly cherished the hope 
of being able, by watching an opportunity, to slip on 
shore at tea-time, and lose myself among the streets 
of the city. Although a total stranger to Quebec, I 
longed to be at liberty there, as I thought I could soon 
place myself among persons who would secure me from 
the Catholics, each of whom I now looked upon as an 

But I soon found that my last hopes were blighted; 
the maid, having received, as I presumed, strict orders 
from the captain, kept me closely confined, so that 
escape was impossible. I was distressed, it is true, to 
find myself in this condition ; but I had already become 
accustomed to disappointments, and therefore perhaps 
sunk less under this new one, than I might otherwise 
have done. When the hour for departure arrived, I 

MAftIA MONK. ld3 

«m therefore still confined in the steamboat, and it wai 
not until we had left the shore that I was allowed to 
leave the cabin. The captain and others treated me 
with kindness in every respect, except that of permit- 
ting me to do what I most desired. I have sometimes 
suspected that he had received notice of my escape from 
some of the priests, with a request to stop my flight, 
if I should go on board bis boat. His wife is a Catholic, 
and this is the only way in which I can account for his 
conduct: still, I have not sufficient knowledge of his 
motives and intentions to speak with entire confidence 
on the subject. 

My time passed heavily on board of the steam-boat, 
particularly on my passage up the river towards 
Montreal. My mind was too much agitated to allow 
me to sleep, for I was continually meditating on the 
scenes I had witnessed in the convent, and anticipating 
with dread such as I had reason to think I might soon 
be called to pass through, I bought for a trifle while on 
board, I hardly know why, a small medallion with a 
head upon it, and the name of Robertson, which I hung 
upon my neck. As I sat by day with nothing to do, I 
occasionally sunk into a doze for a few minutes, when 
I usually waked with a start from some frightful dream. 
Sometimes I thought I was running away from the 
priests, and closely pursued, and sometimes had no 
hope of escape. But the most distressing of my feel- 
ings were those I suffered in the course of the night. 
We stopped some time at Berthier, where a number of 
prisoners were taken on board to be carried up the 
river ; and this caused much confusion, and added to my 
painful reflections. 

My mind became much agitated, worse than it had 
been before; and what between waking fears, and 
sleeping visions, I spent a most wretched night. Some- 
times I thought the priests and nuns had me shut up 
in a dungeon: sometimes they were about to make 
away with me in a most cruel manner. Once I 


dreamed that I was in some house, and • coach cams 
up to the door, into which I was to be put by force; 
and the man who seized me and was putting me in, had 
no head. 

When we reached Montreal on Saturday morning It 
was not daylight; and the captain, landing, set off, as I 
understood, to give my mother information that I was 
in his boat. He was gone a long time, which led to 
conjectures that he might have found difficulty in speak- 
ing with her; but the delay proved very favourable to 
me, for perceiving that I was neither locked up nor 
watched, I hastened on shore, and pursued my way into 
the city. I felt happy at my escape: bnt what was I 
then to do? Whither could I go? Not to my mother; 
I was certain I could not remain long with her, without 
being known to the priests. 

My friendlessness and utter helplessness, with the 
dread of being murdered in the convent, added to the 
thoughts of the shame that must await me if I lived a 
few months, made me take a desperate resolution, and 
I hurried to put it into effect. 

My object was to reach the head of the Lachine canal, 
which is near the St. Lawrence, beyond the extremity 
of the southern suburbs. I walked hastily along St. 
Paul's street, and found all the houses still shut; then 
turning to the old Recollet church, I reached Notre 
Dame street, which I followed in the direction I wished 
to go. 

The morning was chilly, as the season was somewhat 
advanced; but that was of no importance to me. Day 
had appeared, and I desired to accomplish the object 
on which I was now bent, before the light should much 
increase. I walked on. therefore, but the morning had 
broken bright before I arrived at the canal; and then 
T found, ix> my disappointment, that two Canadians 
were at work on the bank, getting water, or doing some- 
thing else. 

I was by the great basin where the boats *tart, and 


near the Urge canal storehouse. I had not said what 
was my design: it was to drown myself. 

Fearing the men would rescue me, I hesitated for 
some time, hoping they would retire: but finding that 
they would not, I grew impatient. I stood looking on 
the water; it was nearly on a level with the banks, 
which shelved away, as I could perceive for some 
distance, there being no wind to disturb the surface. 
There was nothing in the sight which seemed frightful 
or even forbidding to me ; I looked upon it as the means 
of the easiest death, and longed to be buried below. 
At length finding that the men were not likely to leave 
the place, I sprang from the bank, and was in an in- 
stant in the cold water. The shock was very severe. 
I felt a sharp freezing sensation run through me, which 
almost immediately rendered me insensible; and the 
last thing I can recollect was, that I was sinking in the 
midst of water almost as cold as ice, which wet my 
clothes, and covered me all over. 



HOW long I remained in the canal I know not; 
bnt in about three minutes, as I conjectured, I 
felt a severe blow on my right side, and opening my 
eyes I saw myself Burrounded by men who talked a 
great deal, and expressed much anxiety and curiosity 
about me. They inquired of me my name, where I 
lived, and why I had thrown myself into the water; but 
I would not answer a word. The blow which I had 
felt, and which was probably the cause of bringing me 
for a few moments to my senses, I presume was caused 
by falling, after I was rescued, upon the stones, which 
lay thickly scattered near the water. I remember that 
the persons around me continued to press me with 
questions, and that I still remained silent. Some of 
them having observed the little medallion on my neck, 
and being able to read, declared that I was probably a 
daughter of Dr. Robertson, as it bore the name; but to 
this I also gave no answer, and sunk again into a state 
of unconsciousness. 

When my senses once more returned, I found myself 
lying in a bed covered up warm, in a house, and heard 
several persons talking of the mass, from which they 
had just returned. I could not imagine where I was, 
for my thoughts were not easily collected, and every- 
thing seemed strange around me. Some of them on 
account of the name on the little medallion, had sent to 
Dr. Robertson, to inform him that a young woman had 
been prevented from drowning herself in the basin, 
woo had a portrait on heT neck, with his family name 
stamped upon it; and he had sent word that although 

MA&IA MONK. 106 

she could to «o relation of his, they had better bring 
her to hiis house, as he possibly might be able to learn 
who she was. Preparations were therefore made to 
conduct me thither; and I was soon in his house. 
This was about midday, or a little later. 

The doctor endeavoured to draw from me some con- 
fession of my family; but I refused; my feelings would 
not permit me to give him any satisfaction. He offered 
to send me to my home if I would tell him where I 
lived ; but at length, thinking me unreasonable and 
obstinate, began to threaten to send me to jaiL 

In a short time I found that the latter measure was 
determined on, and I was soon put into the hands of 
the jailer, Captain Holland, and placed in a private room 
in his house. 

I had formerly been acquainted with his children, 
but had such strong reasons for remaining unknown 
that I hoped they would not recognize me and, as we 
had not met for several years, I flattered myself that 
such would be the case. It was, at first, as I had hoped ; 
they saw me in the evening, but did not appear to sus- 
pect who I was. 

The next morning, however, one of them asked me 
if I were not sister of my brother, mentioning hia name, 
and though I denied it, they all insisted that I must 
be, for the likeneas, they said, was surprisingly strong. 
I still would not admit the truth; but requested they 
would send for the Rev. Mr. Esson, a Presbyterian 
clergyman in Montreal, saying I had something to say 
to him. He soon made his appearance, and I gave him 
some account of myself, and requested him to procure 
my release from confinement, as I thought there was no 
reason why I should be deprived of my liberty. 

Contrary to my wishes, however, he went and inform- 
ed my mother. An unhappy difference had existed 
between us for many yeans, concerning which I would 
not speak, were it not necessary to allude to it, to ren- 
der some things intelligible which are important to my 

l6? MAftlA XOIOL 

narrative. I am willing to bear ranch of the blame, fof 
my drawing part of the pension had justly irritated her. 
I shall not attempt to justify or explain my own feel- 
ings with respect to my mother, whom I still regard, 
at least in some degree, as I ought, I will merely say 
that I thought she indulged in partialities and antipa- 
thies in her family during my childhood, and that I 
attribute my entrance into the nunnery, and the misfor- 
tunes I have suffered, to my early estrangement from 
home, and my separation from the family. I had 
neither seen her nor heard from her for several years ; 
and knew not whether she had even known of my en- 
trance into the convent, although I now learnt that she 
still resided where she formerly did. 

It was therefore with regret that I heard that my 
mother had been informed of my condition; and that 
I saw an Irishwoman, an acquaintance of hers, come 
to take me to the house. I had no doubt that she 
would think that I had disgraced her, by being im- 
prisoned, as well as by my attempt to drown myself; 
and what would be her feelings towards me, I corald 
only conjecture. 

I accompanied the woman to my mother's, and found 
nearly such a reception as I had expected. Notwith- 
standing our mutual feelings were much as they had 
been, she wished me to stay with hex, and kept me in 
one of her rooms for several weeks, and with the utmost 
privacy, fearing that my appearance would lead to ques- 
tions, and that my imprisonment would become known. 

I soon satisfied myself that she knew little of what I 
had passed through, within the few past years; and 
did not think it prudent to inform her, for that would 
greatly have increased the risk of my being discovered 
by the priests. We were surrounded by those who went 
frequently to confession, and would have thought me a 
monster of wickedness, guilty of breaking the most 
solemn vows, and a fugitive from a retreat which \§ 
generally regarded there as a place of great sanctity, 


and almost like a gate to heaven. I well knew the 
ignorance and prejudices of the poor Cauadiana, and 
understood how such a person as myself must appear 
in their eyes. They felt as I formerly had, and would 
think it a service to religion and to God to betray the 
place of my concealment, if by chance they should find, 
or even suspect it As I had become in the eyes of 
"Catholics, " a spouse of Jesus Christ," by taking the veil, 
my leaving the convent must appear to them a forsaking 
of the Saviour. 

As things were, however, 1 remained for some time 
undisturbed. My brother, though he lived in the house 
did not know of my being there for a fortnight. 

When he learnt it, and came to see me he expressed 
much kindness towards me: but I had not seen him 
for several years, and had seen so much evil, that I 
knew not what secret motives he might have, and 
thought it prudent to be reserved. I, therefore, com- 
municated to him nothing of my history or intentions, 
and rather repulsed his advances. The truth is, I had 
been so long among nuns and priests, that I thought 
there was no sincerity or virtue on earth. 

What were my mother's wishes or intentions towards 
me, I was not informed: but I found afterwards, that 
she must have made arrangements to have me removed 
from her house, for one day a woman came to the door 
with a carriage, and on being admitted to see me, ex- 
pressed herself in a friendly manner, spoke of the neces- 
sity of air and exercise for my health, and invited 
me to teJcp a ride. I consented, supposing we should 
soon return; but when we reached St. Antoine su- 
burbs, she drove up to a house which I had formerly 
heard to be some kind of refuge, stopped, aud requested 
me to alight. My first thought was, that I should be 
exposed to certain detection, by some of the priests 
whom I presumed officiated there; as they had all 
known me in the nunnery. I could not avoid entering ; 
but I resolved to feign sickness, hoping thus to be placed 


ont of sight of the priests. 

The result was according to my wishes: for I we* 
taken to an npper room, which was used as an infirmary 
end there permitted to remain. There were a largo 
number of women in the house; and a Mrs. M'Donald, 
who ha3 the management of it, had her daughters in 
the Ursuline Nunnery at Quebec, and her son in the 
College. The nature of the establishment I could not 
fully understand: but it seemed to me designed to be- 
come a nunnery at some future time. 

I felt pretty safe in the house, as long as I was cer- 
tain of remaining in the infirmary ; for there was nobody 
there who had ever seen me before. But I resolved to 
avoid, if possible, ever making my appearance below, 
for I felt that I could not do so without hazard of dis- 

Among other appendages of a convent, which I 
observed in that place, was a confessional within the 
building, and I soon learnt, to my dismay, that Father 
Bonin, one cf the murderers of Saint Frances, was in 
the habit of constant attendance ta priest and con- 
fessor. The recollections which I often indulged in of 
scenes in the Hotel Dieu, gave me uneasiness and dis- 
tress : but not knowing where to go to seek greater seclu- 
sion, I remained in the infirmary week after week, still 
affecting illness in the best manner I could. 

At length I found that I was suspected of playing off 
a <?*ception with regard to the state of my health; 
and at the close of a few weeks, I became satisfied that 
I could not remain longer without making my appear- 
ance below stairs. I at length complied with the wishes 
I heard expressed, that I would go into the community- 
room, where those in health were accustomed to reassem- 
ble at work, and then some of the women began to talk 
of my going to confession. 

I merely expressed unwillingness at first: but when 
they pressed the point, and began to insist, my fear of 
detection overcame every other feeling, and I plainly 


declared that I would not go. This led to an alterca- 
tion, when the mistress of the house pronounced me 
incorrigible, and said she would not keep me for a hun- 
dred pounds a year. She, in fact, became so weary of 
having me there, that she sent to my mother to take me 

My mother, in consequence, sent a carriage for me, 
and took me again into her house; but I became so 
unhappy in a place where I was secluded and destitute 
of all agreeable society, that I earnestly requested her 
to allow me to leave Canada. I believe she felt ready to 
have me removed to a distance, that she might not be 
in danger of having my attempt at self-destruction, and 
my confinement in prison made public 

There was a fact which I had not disclosed, and of 
which all were ignorant: viz., that which had so much 
influence in exciting me to leave the convent, and to 
reject every idea of returning to it. 

When conversing with my mother about leaving 
Canada, I proposed to go to New York. She inquired 
why I wished to go there. I made no answer to that 
question; for though I had never been there, and knew 
scarcely anything about the place, I presumed that I 
should find protection from my enemies, as I knew it 
was in a Protestant country. I had not thought of 
going to the United States before, because I had no 
one to go with me, nor money enough to pay my ex- 
penses ; but then a plan presented itself to my mind, by 
which I thought I might proceed to New York in safety. 

There was a man who I presumed would wish to have 
me leave Canada, on his own account ; and that was the 
man I had so precipitately married while residing at 
St. Denis. He must have had motives, as I thought, 
for wishing me at a distance. I proposed, therefore, 
that he should be informed that I was in Montreal, and 
anxious to go to the States, and such a message was 
Rent to him by a woman whom my mother knew. She 
had a little stand for the sale of some articled, and had 


a husband who carried on some similar kind of busi- 
ness at the Scotch mountain. Through her husband, 
as I suppose, she had my message conveyed, and soon 
informed me that arrangements were made for my com- 
mencing my journey, under the care of the person ia 
whom, it had been sent. 



IT is remarkable that I was able to stay bo long 
in the midst of Catholics without discovery, and 
at last obtain the aid of some of them in effecting my 
flight There is probably not a person in Montreal 
who would sooner have betrayed me into the power of 
the priests than that woman, if she had known my 

She was a frequent visitor at the Convent and the 
Seminary, and had a ticket which entitled her every 
Monday to the gift of a loaf of bread from the former. 
She had an unbounded respect for the Superior and 
the priests, and seized every opportunity to please 
them. Now the fact that she was willing to take 
measures to facilitate my departure from Montreal, 
afforded sufficient evidence to me of her entire ignor- 
ance of myself, in all respects in which I could wish 
her to be ignorant; and I confided in her, because I 
perceived that she felt no stronger motive, than a dis- 
position to oblige my mother. 

Should anything occur to let her into the secret of 
my being a fugitive from the Black Nunnery, I knew 
that I could not trust to her kindness for an instant. 
The discovery of that fact would transform her into a 
bitter and deadly enemy. She would at once regard 
me as guilty of mortal sin, an apostate, and a proper 
object of persecution. And this was & reflection I had 
often reason to make, when thinking of the numerous 
Catholics around me. How important, then, ihe keep. 


ing of my secret, and my escape before the truth should 
become known, even to a single person near me. 

I could realize, from the dangers through which I 
was brought by the hand of God, how difficult it 
must be, in moat cases, for a fugitive from a nunnery 
to obtain her final freedom from the power of her 
enemies. Even if escaped from a convent, so long as 
she remains among Catholics, she is in contant expos- 
ure to be informed against especially if the news of her 
escape is made public, which fortunately was not the 
fact in my case. 

If a Catholic comes to the knowledge of any fact 
calculated to expose such a person, he will think it his 
duty to disclose it at confession; and then the whole 
fraternity will be in motion to seize her. 

How happy for me that not a suspicion was enter- 
tained concerning me, arid that not a whisper against 
me was breathed into the ear of a single priest at con- 
fession ! 

Notwithstanding my frequent appearance in the 
street*, my removals from place to place, and the 
various exposures I had to discovery, contrary to my 
fears, which haunted me even in my dreams, I was 
preserved; and as I have often thought, for the pur- 
pose of making the disclosures contained in this 
volume. No power but that of God, as I have fre- 
quently thought, could ever have led me in safety 
through so many dangers. 

I would not have my readers imagine, however, 
that I had at that period any thought of making 
known my history to the world. I wished to plunge 
into the deepest possible obscurity; and next to the fear 
of falling into the hands of the priests and Superior, 
I shrunk most from the idea of having others ac- 
quainted with the scenes I had passed through. Such 
a thought as publishing never entered my mind till 
months after thai time. My desire was that T might 

MA&fA MONK* 174 

name and my shame might perish on earth together. 
As for my future doom, 1 still looked forward to it 
with gloomy apprehensions : for I considered myself 
is almost, if not quite, removed beyond the reach of 
mercy. During all the time which had elapsed since 
I left the convent, I had received no religious instruc- 
tion, nor even read a word of the Scriptures; and, 
therefore, it is not wonderful that I should still have 
remained under the delusions in which I had been edu- 

The plan arranged for the commencement of my 
journey was this: I was to cross the St. Lawrence 
to Longueuil, to meet the man who was to accompany 
me. The woman who had sent my message into the 
country, went with me to the ferry, and crossed the 
river, where, according to appointment, we found my 
companion. He willingly undertook to accempany 
me to the place of my destination, and at his own 
expense; but declared that he was apprehensive we 
•hould be pursued. To avoid the priests who he sup- 
posed would follow us, he took an indirect route, and 
during about twelve days, or nearly that, which we 
spent on the way, passed over a much greater distance 
than was necessary. It would be needless, if it were 
possible, to mention all the places we visited. We 
crossed Carpenter's ferry, and were at Scotch Mountain 
and St. Alban's; arrived at Champlain by land, and 
there took the steamboat, leaving it again at Burlington. 

As we were riding towards Charlotte, my companion 
entertained fears which, to me, appeared ridiculous; 
but it was impossible for me to reason him out of them, 
or to hasten our journey. 'Circumstances which ap- 
peared to me of no moment whatever, would often in- 
fluence and sometimes make him change his whole plan 
and direction. As we were one day approaching Char- 
lotte, for instance, on inquiring of a person on the way 
whether there were any Canadians there, and being in- 
formed that there were not a few, and that there was a 



Roman Cathoic priest residing there, he immediately 
determined to avoid the place, and tnrn hack, although 
we were then only about nine miles distant from it. 

During several of the first nights after leaving Mont- 
real, he suffered greatly from fear; and on meeting me 
in the morning, repeatedly said : * Well, thank God, we 
are safe so f ar ! n When we arrived at Whitehall he had 
an idea that we should run a risk of meeting priests, 
who, he thought, were in search of us, if we went imme- 
diately on; and insisted that we had better stay there 
a little, until they should have passed. In spite of my 
anxiety \xi proceed, we accordingly remained there about 
a week, when we entered a canal-boat to proceed to 

An unfortunate accident happened to me while on 
our way. I was in the cabin, when a gun, which had 
been placed near me, was started from its place by the 
motion of the boat, caused by another boat running 
against it, and striking me on my left side, threw me to 
some distance. The shock was violent, and I thought 
myself injured, and hoped the effects would soon pass 
off. I was afterwards taken with vomiting blood; and 
this alarming symptom several times returned: but I 
was able to keep up. 

We came, without any unnecessary delay, from Troy 
to New York, where we arrived in the morning, either 
en Thursday or Friday, as I believe ; but my companion 
there disappeared without informing me where he was 
going, and I saw him no more. Being now, as I pre- 
•umed, beyond the reach of my enemies, I felt relief 
from the fear of being carried back to the nunnery, and 
sentenced to death or the cells; but I was in a large 
city where I had net a friend. Feeling overwhelmed 
with my miserable condition, I longed for death; and 
yet T felt no desire to make another attempt to destroy 

On the contrary, I determined to seek some solitary 
retreat, and await God's time to remove me from a 


world in which I had found so much trouble, hoping and 
believing that it would not be long. 

Not knowing which way to go to find solitude, I 
spoke to a little boy whom I saw on the wharf, and 
told him I would give him some money if he would 
lead me into the "trash." (This is the common word 
by which, in Canada, we speak of the woods or forests). 
When he understood what I meant, he told me that 
there was no bttsh about New York; but consented to 
lead me to the most lonely place that he knew of. He 
accordingly set off, and I followed him, on a long walk 
to the upper part of the city, and beyond, until we 
reached the outskirts of it Turning off from the road, 
we gained a little hollow, where were a few trees and 
bushes, a considerable distance from any house; and 
there, he told me, was the loneliest place with which he 
was acquainted. I paid him for his trouble out of the 
small stock of money I had in my possession, and let 
him go home, desiring him to come the next day, and 
bring me something to eat, with a few pennies which 
I gave him, 



THERE I found myself once more alone, and 
truly it was a great relief to sit down and feel 
that I was out of reach of the priests and nuns, and 
in a spot where I could patiently wait for death, when 
God might please to send it, instead of being abused 
and tormented according to the caprices and passions of 
my persecutors. 

But then again returned most bitter anticipations of 
the future. Life had no attractions for me, for it 
must be connected with shame ; but death, under any 
circumstances, could not be divested of horrors, so long 
as I believed in the doctrines relating to it which had 
been inculcated upon me. 

The place where I had taken up, as I supposed, my 
last earthly abode, was pleasant in clear and mild 
weather ; and I spent most of my time in as much 
peace as the state of my mind would permit. I saw 
houses, but no human beings, except on the side of a 
little hill near by, where were some men at work, 
making sounds like those made in hammering stone. 
The shade around me was so thick that I felt assured 
of being sufficiently protected from observation if I 
kept still ; and a cluster of bushes offered me a shelter 
for the night. As evening approached I was somewhat 
alarmed by the sound of voices near me, and found that 
a number of labourers were passing that way from their 
work. I went in a fright to the thickest of the bushes, 
and lay down until all was again still, and then ven- 
tured out to take ray seat again on the turf. 

MAX I A MONK. 178 

Ihurknew now came gradually on; and with it fears 
of another description. The thought struck me that 
there might be wild Leasts in that neighbourhood, 
ignorant as I then was of the country; and the more I 
thought of it, the more 1 became alarmed. I heard no 
alarming sound, it is true; but 1 knew not how soon 
some prowling ferocious beast might come upon me in 
my defenceless condition, and tear me in pieces. I 
retired to my bushes, and stretched myself under them 
upon the ground: but I found it impossible to sleep; 
and my mind was continually agitated by thoughts on 
the future or the past. 

In the morning the little boy made his appearance 
again, and brought me a few cakes which he had pur- 
chased for me. He showed much interest in me, 
inquired why I did not live in a house; and it was with 
difficulty that I could satisfy him to let me remain in 
my solitary and exposed condition. Understanding 
that I wished' to continue unknown, he assured me that 
he had not told even his mother about me; and I had 
reason to believe that he faithfully kept my secret to 
the last. Though he lived a considerable distance from 
my hiding place, and, as I supposed, far down in the 
city, he visited me almost every day, even when I had 
not desired him to bring me anything. Several times 
I received from him some small supplies of food for the 
money I had given him. I once gave him a half-dollar 
to get changed; and he brought me back every penny 
of it, at his next visit. 

As I had got my drink from a brook or pool, which 
was at no great distance, he brought me a little cup one 
day to drink out of; but this I was not allowed to keep 
long, for he soon after told me that his mother wanted 
it, and he must return it. He several times arrived 
quite out of breath, and when I inquired the reason, 
calling him as I usually did, " Little Tommy," he said 
it was necessary for him to run, and to stay but a short 
time, that he might be st school in good season. Thu$ 



he continued to serve me, and keep my secret, at great 
inconvenience to himself, up to the last day of my 6tay 
in that retreat; and I believe he would have done so 
for three months if I had remained there. I should 
like to see him again, and hear his broken English. 

I had now abundance of time to reflect on my lost 
condition; and many a bitter thought passed through 
my mind, as I sat on the ground, or strolled about by 
day, and la* under the bushes at night. 

Sometimes I reflected on the doctrines I had heard 
at the nunnery, concerning sins and penances, Purga- 
tory and Hell; and sometimes on my late companions 
and the crimes I had witnessed in the convent. 

Sometimes I would sit and seriously consider how 1 
might best destroy my life; and sometimes would sing 
a few of the hymns with which I was familiar; but I 
never felt willing or disposed to pray, a* 1 supposed 
there was no hope of mercy for me. 

One of the first nights I spent in that houseless con- 
dition was stormy; and though I crept under the thick- 
est of the bushes, and had more protection against the 
rain than one might have expected, I was almost 
entirely wet before morning; and, it may be supposed, 
passed a more uncomfortable night than usual. The 
next day I was happy to find the weather clear, and 
was able to dry my garments by taking off one at a 
time, and spreading them on the bushes. A night or 
two after, however, I was again exposed to a heavy 
rain, and had the same process afterward to go through 
with ; but what is remarkable, I took no cold on either 
occasion; nor did I suffer any lasting injury from all 
the exposures I underwent in that place. The incon- 
veniences I had to encounter, also, appeared to me of 
little importance, not being sufficient to draw off my 
mind from its own trouble; and I had no intention of 
seeking a more comfortable abode, still looking forward 
only to dying as soon as God would permit, alone and 
in that spot. 


One day, however, when I had been there about ten 
days, I was alarmed at seeing four men approaching 
me. All of them had guns, as if out on a shooting 
excursion. They expressed much surprise and pity on 
finding me there, and pressed me with questions. I 
would not give them any satisfactory account of myself, 
my wants, or intentions, being only anxious that they 
might withdraw. I found them, however, too much 
interested to render me some service to be easily sent 
away; and after some time, thinking there would be no 
other way, I pretended to go away not to return. 
After going some distance, and remaining some time, 
thinking they had left the place, I returned; but to my. 
mortification found they had concealed themselves to 
see whether I would come back. They now, more 
urgently than before, insisted on my removing to some 
other place, where I might be comfortable. They con- 
tinued to question me; but I became distressed in a 
degree I cannot describe, hardly knowing what I did. 
At last I called the oldest gentleman aside, and told 
him something of my history. He expressed great 
interest for me, offered to take me anywhere I would 
tell him, and at last insisted that I should go with him 
to his own house. All these offers I refused ; on which 
one proposed to take me to the Almshouse, and even 
to carry me by force if I would not go willingly. 

To this I at length consented; but some delay took 
place, and I became unwilling, so that with reluctance 
I was taken to that institution, which was about half a 
mile distant. « 



TWAS now at once made comfortable, and attended 
with kindness and care. It is not to be expected 
in such a place, where so many poor and suffering 
people are collected, and duties of a difficult nature are 
to be daily performed by those engaged in the care of 
the institution, that petty vexations should not occur 
to individuals of all descriptions. 

But in spite of all, I received kindness and sympathy 
from several persons around me, to whom I feel 

I was standing one day at the window of the room 
number twenty-six, which id at the end of the hospital 
building, when I saw a spot I once visited in a little 
walk I took from my hiding-place. My feelings were 
different now in some respects, from what they had 
been; for, though I suffered much from my fears of my 
future punishment for the sin of breaking convent 
vows, I had given up the intention of destroying my 
life. (Maria Monk here repeats her confession to the 
Rev. Mr. Tappin, Chaplain of the Almshouse, as in 
pages 136 to 141.) 

I made some nasty notes of the thoughts to which 
it gave rise in my mind, and often recurred to the 
subject. Yet I sometimes questioned the justice of the 
views I began to entertain, and was ready to condemn 
myself for giving my mind any liberty to seek for in- 
formation concerning the foundation of my former 

MA&iA MONK. l83 


ABOUT a fortnight after I had made the disclosures 
mentioned in the last chapter, Mr. Hoyt called 
at the Hospital to make inquiries about me. I was in- 
troduced to him by Mr. Tappin. After some conversa- 
tion, he asked me if I would consent to visit Montreal, 
and give my evidence against the priests and nuns before 
a court. I immediately expressed my willingness to do 
so, on condition that I should be protected. It immedi- 
ately occurred to me, that I might enter the Nunnery 
at night, and bring out the nuns in the cells, and possi- 
bly Jane Ray, and that they would confirm my testi- 

In a short time arrangements were made for our 
journey. I was furnished with clothes; and although 
my strength was as yet but partially restored, I set off 
in pretty good spirits. 

Our journey was delayed for a little time, by Mr. 
Hoytfs waiting to get a companion. He had engaged 
fi clergyman to accompany us, as I understood, who 
was prevented from going by unexpected business. We 
went to Troy in a steamboat; and, while there, I had 
several interviews with some gentlemen who were in- 
formed of my history, and wished to see me. They 
appeared to be deeply impressed with the importance 
of m}' testimony; and on their recommendation it was 
determined that we should go to St. Alban's on our 
way to Montreal, to get a gentleman to accompany us, 
whose advice and assistance, as an experienced lawyer. 


were thought to be desirable to us in prosecuting the 
plan we had in view, viz., the exposure of tbe crimes 
with which I was acquainted. 

We travelled from Troy to Whitehall in a canal 
packet, because the easy motion was best adapted 
to my state of health. We met, on board, the Rev. 
Mr. Sprague, of New York, with whom Mr. Hoyt was 
acquainted, and whom he tried to persuade to accom- 
pany us to Montreal. 

From Whitehall to Burlington we proceeded in a 
steamboat; and there I was so much indisposed, that it 
was necessary to call a physician. After a little rest, 
we set off in the stage for St. Alban's ; and on arriving, 
found that Judge Turner was out of town. We had to 
remain a day or two before he returned; and then he 
said it would be impossible for him to accompany us. 
After some deliberation, it was decided that Mr. Hunt 
should go to Montreal with us, and that Judge Turner 
should follow and join us there as soon as his health 
and business would permit. 

We therefore crossed the lake by the ferry to Platts- 
burg, where, after some delay, we embarked in a steam- 
boat, which took us to St. John's. Mr. Hunt, who had 
not reached the ferry early enough to cross with us, had 
proceeded on to * * * , and there got on board the 
steamboat in the night. We went on to Laprairie with 
little delay, but finding that no boat was to cross the 
St. Lawrence at that place during the day, we had to 
take another private carriage to Longueuil, whence we 
were rowed across to Montreal by three men, in a small 

I had felt quite bold ancf resolute when I first con- 
sented to go to Montreal, and also during my journey: 
but when I stepped on shore in the city, I thought of 
the different scenes I had witnessed there, and of the 
risks T might run before I should leave it. We got into 
a caleche, and rode along towards the hotel where wo 
were to *top. We passed up St. Paul's Street; and, 


although it was dusk, I recognized everything I had 

We came at length to the nunnery ; and then many 
recollections crowded upon me. First I saw a window 
from which I had sometimes looked at some of the 
distant houses in that street; and I wondered whether 
some of my old acquaintances were employed as for- 
merly. But I thought that if I were once within those 
walls, I should soon be in the cells for the remainder of 
my life, or perhaps be condemned to something still 
more severe. I remembered the murder of St. Frances, 
and the whole scene returned to me as if it had just 
taken place; the appearance, language and conduct of 
the persons most active in her destruction. These 
persons were now all near me, and would use all exer- 
tions they safely might, to get me again into their power. 

And certainly they had greater reason to be exasper- 
ated against me, than against that po»r helpless nun 
who had only expressed a wish to escape. 

When I found myself safely in Goodenough's hotel, 
in a retired room, and began to think alone, the most 
gloomy apprehensions filled my mind. I could not eat, 
I had no appetite, and I did not sleep all night. Every 
painful scene I had ever passed through, seemed to 
return to my mind ; and such was my agitation, I could 
fix my thoughts upon nothing particular. I had left 
New York when the state of my health was far from 
being established; and my strength, as may be pre- 
sumed, was now much reduced by the fatigue of travel- 
ling. I shall be able to give but a faint idea of the feel- 
ings with which I passed that night, but must leave it 
to the imagination of my readers. 

Now once more in the neighbourhood of the convent, 
and surrounded by the nuns and priests, of whose con- 
duct I had made the first disclosures ever known, sur- 
rounded by thousands of persons devoted to them, and 
ready to proceed to any outrage, as I feared, whenever 
their interference might be desired, there was abundant 


reason for my uneasiness. 

1 now began to realize that I had some attachment to 
life remaining. When I consented to visit the city, and 
furnish the evidence necessary to lay open the iniquity 
of the convent, I had felt, in a measure, indifferent to 
life; but now, when torture and death seemed at hand, 
I shrunk from it. For myself, life could not be said to 
be of much value. How could I be happy with such 
things to reflect upon as I had passed through? and 
how could I enter society with gratification? But my 
infant I could not abandon, for who would care for it if 
its mother died? 

I was left alon# in the morning by the gentlemen 
who had accompanied me, as they went to take imme- 
diate measures to open the intended investigation. 
Being alone, I thought of my own position in every 
point of view, until I became more agitated than ever. 
I tried to think what persons I might safely apply to as 
friends; and, though still undecided what to do, I 
arose, thinking it would be unsafe to remain any longer 
exposed, as T imagined myself, to be known and seized 
by my enemies. 

I went from the hotel, hurried along, feeling as if I 
were on my way to some asylum, and thinking I would 
first go to the house where I had several times pre- 
viously found a temporary refuge. I did not stop to 
reflect that the woman was a devoted Catholic and 
friend to the Superior; but thought only of her kind- 
ness to me on former occasions, and hastened along 
Notre Dame street. But I was approaching the 
Seminary; and a resolution was suddenly formed to 
go and ask pardon and intercession of the Superior. 
Then the character of Bishop Lartique seemed to pre- 
sent an impossible obstacle; and the disagreeable 
aspect and harsh voice of the man, as I recalled him, 
struck me with horror. I recollected him as I had 
known him when engaged in scenes concealed from 
the eye of the world. The thought of him made me 

MA&IA MONK. 1 86 

decide not to enter the Seminary. I hurried, therefore, 
by the door; and the great church being at hand, my 
next thought was to enter there. I reached the steps, 
walked in, dipped my finger into the holy water, 
crossed myself, turned to the first image I saw, which 
was that of Saint Magdalen, threw myself upon my 
knees, and began to repeat prayers with the utmost 
fervour. I am certain that I never felt a greater 
desire to find relief from any of the Saints; but my 
agitation hardly seemed to subside during my exercise, 
which continued, perhaps, a quarter of an hour or more. 
I then rose from my knees, and placed myself under 
the protection of St. Magdalen and St. Peter by these 
words: " Je me mets sous votre protection " — (I place 
myself under your protection;) and added, "Sainte 
Marie, mere du bon pasteur, prie pour moi" — (Holy 
Mary, mother of the good shepherd, pray for me.) 

I then resolved to call once more at the houie where I 
had found a retreat after my escape from the nunnery, 
and proceeded along the streets in that direction. On 
my way, I had to pass a shop kept by a woman I for- 
merly had an acquaintance with. She happened to see 
me passing, and immediately said, " Maria, is that you? 
Come in." 

I entered, and she soon proposed to me to let her go 
and tell my mother that I had returned to the city. 
To this I objected. I went with her, however, to the 
house of one of her acquaintances near by, where I 
remained some time, during which she went to my 
mother's and came with a request from her, that I 
would have an interview with her, proposing to come 
up and see me, and saying that she had something 
very particular to say to me. What this was, I could 
not with any certainty conjecture. I had my sus- 
picions that it might be something from the priests 
designed to get me back into their power, or, at least, to 
suppress my testimony. 

I felt an extreme repugnance to seeing my mother, 


and in the distressing state of apprehension and uncer- 
tainty in which I was, conld determine on nothing, 
except to avoid her. I therefore soon left the house, 
and walked on without any particular object. The 
weather was then very unpleasant, and it was raining 
incessantly. To this I was very indifferent, and walked 
on till I had got through the suburbs, and found 
myself beyond the windmills. Then I returned, and 
passed back through the city, still not recognized by 

I once saw one of my brothers, unless I was much 
mistaken, and thought he knew me. If it was he, I 
am confident he avoided me, and that was my belief 
at the time, as he went into the yard with the appear- 
ance of much agitation. I continued to walk up and 
down most of the day, fearful of stopping anywhere, 
lest I should be recognized by my enemies, or betrayed 
into their power. I felt all the distress of a feeble, 
terrified woman, in need of protection, and, as I 
thought, without a friend in whom I could safely con- 
fide. It distressed me extremely to think of my poor 
babe; and I had now been so long absent from it, as 
necessarily to suffer much inconvenience. 

I recollected to have been told in the New York 
Hospital, that laudanum would relieve distress both 
bodily and mentally, by a woman who urged me to make 
a trial of it. In my despair, I resolved to make an 
experiment with it, and entering an apothecary's shop, 
asked for some. The apothecary refused to give me 
any; but an old man who was there told me to come 
in, inquired where I had been, and what was the 
matter with me, seeing that I was quite wet through. 
I let him know that T had an infant, and on his urging 
me to tell more, I told him where my mother lived. He 
went out, and soon after returned, accompanied by my 
mother, who told me she had my child at home, and 
pressed me to go to her house and see it, saying she 
would not insist on my entering, but would bring it out 


to me. 

1 consented to accompany her; but on reaching the 
door, she began to urge me to go in, 6aying I would 
not be known to the rest of the family, but might stay 
there in perfect privacy. I was resolved not to com- 
ply with this request, and resisted all her entreaties, 
though she continued to urge me for a long time, 
perhaps half an hour. At length she went in, and I 
walked away, in a state no less desperate than before. 
Indeed, night was approaching, the rain continued, and 
I had no prospect of food, rest, or even shelter. I went 
on till I reached the parade-ground, unnoticed, I believe, 
by anybody, except one man, who asked where I was 
going, but to whom 1 gave no answer. I had told my 
mother, before she left me, that she might find me in 
the parade-ground. There I stopped, in a part of the 
open ground where there was no probability of my 
being observed, and stood thinking of the many dis- 
tressing things which harassed me; suffering, inaeed 
from exposure to wet and cold, but indifferent to 
them as evils of mere trifling importance, and expect- 
ing that death would soon ease me of my present 
sufferings. I had hoped that my mother would bring 
my babe to me there; but as it was growing late, I gave 
up all expectations of seeing her. 

At length she came, accompanied by Mr. Hoyt, who, 
as I afterwards learnt, had called on her after my leav- 
ing the hotel, and at her request, nad entrusted my 
child to her care. Calling again after I had left her 
house, she had informed him that she now knew where 
I was, and consented to lead him to the spot. I was 
hardly able to speak or to walk, in consequence of the 
hardships I had undergone; but being taken to a small 
inn, and put under the care of several women, I was 
made comfortable with a change of clothes and a warm 




IN the morning I received an invitation to go to the 
house of a respectable Protestant, an old inhabi- 
tant of the city, who had been informed of my 
eituation; and although I felt hardly able to move, I 
proceeded thither in a carriage, and was received with 
a degree of kindness, and treated with such care, that I 
must ever retain a lively gratitude towards the family. 

On Saturday I had a visit from Doctor Robertson, to 
whose house I had been taken soon after my rescue 
from drowning. He put a few questions to me and soon 

On Monday, after the close of mass, a Canadian man 
came in, and entered into conversation with the master 
of the house in an adjoining room. He was, as I 
understood, a journeyman carpenter, and a Catholic, 
and having heard that a fugitive nun was somewhere in 
the city, began to speak on the subject in French. I 
was soon informed that Father Phelan had just ad- 
dressed his congregation with much apparent excite- 
ment about myself; and thus the carpenter had received 
his information. Father Ph elan's words, according to 
what I heard said by numerous witnesses, at different 
times, must have been much like the following: — 

" There is a certain nun now in this city, who ha? left 
our faith, and joined the Protestants. She has a child, 
of which she is ready to swear I am the father. She 
would be glad in this way to take away my gown from 
me. If I knew where t^ find her I would put her w 


prison. I mention this to guard you agaiust being 
deceived by what she may say. The devil has such a 
hold upon people now-a-days, that there is danger that 
some might believe her story." 

Before he concluded his speech, as was declared, he 
burst into tears, and appeared to be quite overcome. 
When the congregation had been dismissed, a number 
of them came round him, and he told some of them 
that I waB Antichrist; I was not a human being, as he 
was convinced, but an evil spirit, who had got among 
the Catholics, and being admitted into the nunnery, 
where I had learnt the rules so that I could repeat 
them. My appearance, he declared, was a fulfilment of 
prophecy, as Antichrist is foretold to be coming, in order 
to break down, if possible, the Catholic religion. 

The journeyman carpenter had entered the house 
where I lodged under these impressions, and had con- 
versed some time on the subject, without any suspicion 
that I was near. After he had railed against me with 
such violence, as I afterwards learned, the master of the 
house informed him that he knew something of the nun, 
and mentioned that she charged the priests of the 
Seminary with crimes of an awful character; in reply 
to which the carpenter expressed the greatest disbelief. 

"You can satisfy yourself/' said the master of the 
house, " if you will take the trouble to step upstairs, for 
she lives in my family." 

" I see her 1" he exclaimed — " No, I would not see the 
wretched creature for anything. I wonder you are not 
afraid to have her in your house. — She will bewitch you 
all.— The evil spirit !" 

After some persuasion, however, he came into the 
room where I was sitting, but looked at me with every 
appearance of dread and curiosity: and his exclama- 
tions, and subsequent conversation, in Canadian French, 
were very ludicrous. 

" Eh bin," he began on first seeing me, " c'est ici la 
malheureuse V* (Well, is this the poor creature?) But 


he stood at a distance, and looked at me with curiosity 
and evident fear. 1 asked liiui to sit down, and tried 
to make him feel at his ease, by speaking in a mild and 
pleasant tone. He soon became so far master of him- 
self, as to enter into conversation. 

* I understood," said he, " that she has said very hard 
things against the priests. How can that be true?" 
" I can easily convince you," said I, " that they do what 
they ought not, and commit crimes of the kind I com- 
plain of. You are married, I suppose?" He assented. 
"You confessed, I presume, on the morning of your 
wedding-day ?" He acknowledged that he did. " Then 
did not the priest tell you at confession, that he had 
had intercourse with your intended bride, but that it 
was for her sanctification, and that you must never 
reproach her with it?" 

This question instantly excited him. but he did not 
hesitate a moment to answer it. "Yes," replied he, 
* and that looks black enough." I had put the question 
to him, because I knew the practice to which I alluded 
had prevailed at St. Denis while I was there, and 
believed it to be universal, or at least very common in 
all the Catholic parishes of Canada. I thought I had 
reason to presume that every Catholic, married in 
Canada, had had such experience, and that an allusion 
to the conduct of the priest, in this particular, must 
compel any of them to admit that my declarations were 
far from being incredible. This was the effect on the 
mind of the simple mechanic, and from that moment he 
made no more serious questions concerning my truth 
and sincerity during that interview. 

Further conversation ensued, in the course of which I 
expressed the willingness which I have often declared, 
to go into the convent and point out things which would 
confirm, to any doubting person, the truth of my 
heaviest accusations against the priests and nuns. At 
length he withdrew, and afterwards entered, saying, thnt 
he had been to the convent to make inquiries concern- 


Ing me. He assured me that he had been told that, 
although 1 had once belonged to the nunnery, I was 
called St. Jacques, and not St. Eustace; and that now 
they would not own or recognize me. Then he began 
to curse me, but yet sat down, as if disposed for further 
conversation. It seemed as if he was affected by the 
most contrary feelings, and in rapid succession. One of 
the things he said, was to persuade me to leave Mont- 
real. " I advise you," said he, " to go away to-morrow/' 
I replied, that I was in no haste, and might stay a 
month longer. 

Then he fell to cursing me once more; but the next 
moment broke out against the priests, calling them all 
the names he could think of. His passion became so 
high against them, that he soon began to rub himself, 
as the low Canadians, who are apt to be very passion- 
ate, sometimes do, to calm their feelings, when they are 
excited to a painful degree. After this explosion he 
again became quite tranquil, and turning to me, in a 
frank and friendly manner, said, "I will help you in 
your measures against the priests; but tell me, first — 
you are going to print a book, are you not ?" " No/' 
said I. " I have no thoughts of that." 

Then he left the house again, and soon returned, say- 
ing he had been at the Seminary, and seen a person 
who had known me in the nunnery, and said I had 
been only a novice, and that he would not acknowledge 
me now. I sent back word by him, that I would show 
one spot in the nunnery that would prove I spoke the 
truth. Thus he continued to go and return several 
times, 6aying something of the kind every time, until I 
became tired of him. He was so much enraged once 
or twice during some of the interviews, that I felt some- 
what alarmed ; and some of the family heard him swear- 
ing as he went down stairs: "Ah, sacre — that is too 
black !" 

He • came at last, dressed up like a gentleman, and 
fnW me he was ready to wait on me to the nunnery. I 


expressed my surprise that he should expect me to go 
with him alone, and told him I had never thought of 
going without some protector, still assuring him, that, 
with any person to secure my return, I would cheerfully 
go all over the nunnery, and show sufficient evidence of 
the truth of what I alleged. 

My feelings continued to vary: I was sometimes 
fearful, and sometimes so courageous as to think seri- 
ously of going into the Recollet church during mass 
with my child in my arms, and calling upon the priest 
to own it And this I am confident I should have done, 
but for the persuasions used to prevent me. 




NOTHER person who expressed a desire to see 
me was an Irish milkman. He had heard, what 

had 6eemed to be pretty generally reported, that I 
blamed none but the Irish priests. He put the ques- 
tion, whether it was a fact that I accused nobody but 
Father Phelan. I told him it was not so, and this 
pleased him so well, that he told me, if I would stay in 
Montreal, I should have milk for myself and child as 
long as I lived. It is well known that strong antipathies 
have long existed between French and Irish Catholics 
in that city. 

The next day the poor Irishman returned, but in a 
very different state of mind. He was present at church 
in the morning, he said, when Father Phelan told the 
congregation that the nun of whom he had spoken 
before, had gone to court and accused him; and that 
he, by the power he possessed, had struck her powerless 
as she stood before the judge, so that she sunk helpless 
on the floor. He expressed, by the motion of his 
hands, the unresisting manner in which she had sunk 
under the mysterious influence, and declared that she 
would have died on the spot, but that he had chosen 
to keep her alive that she might retract her false accu- 
sation. This, he said she did, most humbly, before 
the court, acknowledging that she had been paid a 
hundred pounds as a bribe. 

The first words of the poor milkman, on revisiting 
me, therefore, were like these: "That's to show you 


what power the priest has 1 Didn't he give it you in the 
court? It is to be hoped you will leave the city now." 
He then stated what he had heard Father Fhelan say, 
and expressed his entire conviction of its truth, and the 
extreme joy he felt on discovering, as he supposed he 
had, that his own priest was innocent, and had gained 
euch a triumph over me. 

A talkative Irishwoman also made her appearance, 
among those who called at the house, and urged for 
permission to see me. She said, " I have heard dread- 
ful things are told by a nun you have here, against the 
priests; and I have come to convince myself of the 
truth. I want to see the nun you have got in your 
house. " When informed that I was unwell, and not 
inclined at present to see any more strangers, she still 
showed much disposition to obtain an interview. 
"Well, aint it too bad," she asked, "that there should 
be any reason for people to say such things against the 
priests?" At length she obtained admittance to the 
room where I was, entered with eagerness, and ap- 
proached me. 

"Arrah," she exclaimed, "God bless you — is this 
you ? Now sit down, and let me see the child. And it 
is Father Phelan's, God bless you? But they say you 
tell about murders; and I want to know if they are 
all committed by the Irish priests." "Oh no," replied 
I, "by no means." "Then God bless you" said she. 
"If you will live in Montreal, you shall never want, 
I will see that neither you nor your child ever want 
for putting part of the blame upon the Frer>t:b. priests. 
I am going to Father Phelan, and I shall tell him 
about it. But they say you are an evil spirit. I want 
to know whether it is so or not." " Come here," said 
I, " feel me, and satisfy yourself. Besides, did you ever 
hear of an evil spirit having a child ? " 

T heard from those about me that there was great 
difficulty in finding a magistrate willing to take my 
affidavit. T am perfectly satisfied tbat this was owing 


to the influence of the priests to prevent my accusa- 
tions against them from being made public. One 
evening, a lawyer who had been employed for the 
purpose, accompanied me to a French justice with an 
affidavit ready prepared in English for his signature, 
and informed him that he wished him to administer 
to me the oath. Without any apparent suspicion of 
me, the justice said, "Have you heard of the nun 
who ran away from the convent, and has come back 
to the city, to bear witness against the priests ? " " No 
matter about that now," replied the lawyer hastily ; " I 
have no time to talk with you — will you take this 
person's oath now or not?" He could not read a word 
of the document, because it was not in his own lan- 
guage^ and soon placed his signature at the bottom. 
It proved, however, that we had gained nothing by 
this step, for the lawyer afterward informed us that 
the laws required the affidavit of a nun and a minor td 
be taken before a superior magistrate. 




THOSE who had advised to the course to be pup- 
sued, had agreed to lay the subject before the 
highest authorities. They soon came to the convic- 
tion that it would be in vain to look for any favour 
from the Governor, and resolved to lay it before 
the Attorney-General -as soon as he should return 
from Quebec. After waiting for 6ome time he re- 
turned; and I was informed in a few days that he 
had appointed an interview on the following morn- 
ing. I went at the time with a gentleman of the 
city, to the house of Mr. Grant, a distinguished law- 
yer. In a short time a servant invited us to walk 
upstairs, and we went; but after I had entered a 
small room at the end of a parlour, the door waa 
shut behind me by Mr. Ogden, the Attorney-General. 
A chair was given me, which was placed with the 
back towards a bookcase, at which a man was stand- 
ing apparently looking at the books: and besides the 
two persons I have mentioned, there was but one 
more in the room, Mr. Grant, the master of the 
house. Of the first part of the interview I shall not 
particularly speak. 

The two legal gentlemen at length began a mock 
examination of me, in which they seemed to me to be 
actuated more by a curiosity no way commendable, 
than a sincere desire to discover the truth, writing 
down a few of my answers. In this, however, the per- 
son behind me took no active part. One of the ques- 
tions put to me vas,— 


"What ftitf the colours of the carpet in the Superior's 

I told what they were, when they turned to him 
and inquired whether I had told the truth. He an- 
swered only by a short grunt of assent, as if afraid to 
speak, or even to utter a natural tone; and at the same 
time by his hastiness, showed that he was displeased 
that my answer was correct. I was asked to describe a 
particular man I had seen in the nunnery, and did so. 
My examiner turned partly round with some remark 
or question which was answered in a similar spirit 
I turned and looked at the stranger, who was evidently 
skulking to avoid my seeing him, and yet listening to 
every word that was said. I saw enough in his appear- 
ance to become pretty well satisfied that I had 6een 
him before; and something in his form or attitude 
reminded me strongly of the person whose name had 
been mentioned. I was then requested to repeat some 
of the prayers used in the Nunnery, and repeated part 
of the office of the Virgin, and some others. 

At length, after I had been in the little room, as I 
eould judge, nearly an hour, I was informed that the 
examination had been satisfactory, and that I might go. 

I then returned home; but no further step was 
taken by the Attorney-General, and he refused, as I 
understood, to return my affidavit, which had been left 
in his hands to act upon. 

Besides the persons I have mentioned, I had inter- 
views with numbers of others. I learnt from some, that 
Father Phelan addressed his congregation a second 
time concerning me, and expressly forbade them to 
speak to me if they should have an opportunity, on 
pain of excommunication. It was also said, that he 
prayed for the family I lived with, that they might be 

I repeated to several different persons my willingness 
to go into the nunnery, and point out visible evidences 
of the truth of my statements ; and when I was told bj 


one man, who said he had been to the priests, that I 
had better leave the city, or I would be clapped into 
prison, I made up my mind that I should like to be 
imprisoned a little while, because then, I thought I 
could not be refused a public examination. 

Some Canadians were present one day, when the 
mistress of the house repeated, in my presence, that I 
was ready to go into the nunnery if protected, and, if I 
did not convince others of the truth of my assertions, 
that I would consent to be burned. 

"0 yes, I dare say," replied one of the men — "the 
devil would take her off, — she knows he would. He 
would take care of her — we should never be able to get 
her — the evil spirit." 

A woman present said — 

" I could light the fire to burn you, myself .* 

A woman of Montreal, who had a niece in the nun- 
nery, on hearing of what I declared about it, said that 
if it was true she would help to tear it down. 

Among those who came to see me, numbers were at 
first as violent as any I have mentioned, but after a 
little conversation, became mild and calm. I have 
heard persons declare that it would be no harm to kill 
me, as I had an evil spirit. 

One woman' told me, that she had seen Father Phe- 
lan in the street, talking with a man, to whom he said 
that the people were coming to tear down the house 
in which I stayed, intending afterwards to set fire to 
it in the cellar. This story gave me no serious alarm, 
for I thought I could see through it evidence of an in- 
tention to frighten me, and make me leave the city. 

I was under great apprehensions, however, one day, 
in consequence of an accidental discovery of a plan laid 
to take me off by force. T had stepped into the cellar 
to get an ironholder, when I heard the voices of persons 
in the street above, and recognized those of my mother 
and the Irishwoman her friend. There was another 
woman with them. 


" You go in and lay hold of her/' said one voice. 

"No, you are her mother — you go in and bring her 
out — we will help you." 

I was almost overcome with dread of falling into 
their hands, believing that they would deliver me up to 
the Superior. Hastening into a room, I got behind a 
bed, told the lady of the house the cause of my fear, 
and calling to a little girl to bring me my child, I stood 
in the state of violent agitation. Expecting them in 
the house every instant, and fearing my infant might 
cry, and lead them to the place of my concealment, I 
put my hand upon its mouth to keep it quiet. 

It was thought desirable to get the testimony of the 
mistress of the house where I spent the night, after my 
escape from the nunnery, as one means of substantiat- 
ing my story. I had been there the day before my visit 
to the house of Mr. Grant, accompanied by a friend, 
and on my first inquiring of her about my nunnery 
dress, she said she had carried it to the Superior ; speak- 
ing with haste, as if she apprehended I had some object 
very different from what I actually had. It now being 
thought best to summon her as a witness before a mag- 
istrate, and not knowing her whole name, we set oil 
again towards her house to make inquiry. 

On our way we had to pass behind the parade. I 
suddenly heard an outcry from a little gallery in the 
rear of a house which fronts another way, which drew 
my attention. 

"There's the nun, there's the nun!" exclaimed a 
female, after twice clapping her hands smartly to- 
gether, " There's the nun, there's the nun." 

I looked up, and whom should I see but the Irish- 
woman, who had taken so active a part, on several occa- 
sions, in my affairs, on account of her friendship for 
my mother, the same who had accompanied me to 
Longueuil in a boat, when I set out for New York, 
after making arrangements for my journey. She now 
behaved as if exasperated against me to the utmost; 


having, as I had no doubt, learnt the object of my 
journey to Montreal since I had last sptfken with her, 
and having all her Catholic prejudices excited. She 
screamed out: 

"There's the nun that's come to swear against our 
dear Father Phelan. Arrah, lay hold, lay hold upon 
her ! Catch her, kill her, pull her to pieces." 

And so saying she hurried down to the street, while a 
number of women, children, and some men, came 
running out, and pursued after me. I immediately 
took to flight, for I did not know what they might do; 
and she, with the rest, pursued us, until we reached two 
soldiers, whom we called upon to protect us. They 
showed a readiness to do so; and when they learnt that 
we were merely going to a house beyond, and intended 
to return peaceably, consented to accompany us. The 
crowd, might rather be called a mob, thought proper 
not to offer us any violence in the presence of the 
soldiers, and after following us a little distance, began 
to drop off, until all had disappeared. One of the 
soldiers, however, soon after remarked that he observed 
a man following us, whom he had seen in the crowd, 
and proposed that instead of both of them going before 
us, one should walk behind, to guard against any design 
he might have. This was done; and we proceeded to 
a house near the one where I had found a refuge, and 
after obtaining the information we sought, returned, 
still guarded by the soldiers. 

All our labour in this case, however, proved unavail- 
ing; for we were unable to get the woman to appear in 

At length it was found impossible to induce the 
magistrates to do anything in the case; and arrange- 
ments were made for my return to New York. While 
in the ferry-boat crossing from Montreal to Laprairie, 
I happened to be standing near two little girls, when I 
overheard the following conversation. 

**W1iv do von leave Montreal so soon?" 


** I had gone to spend a week or two ; but I heard 
that Antichrist was in the city, and was afraid to. be 
there. So I am going right home. I would not be in 
Montreal while Antichrist is there. He has come to 
destroy the Catholic religion." 

I felt quite happy when I found myself once more 
safe in New York; and it has only been since my 
return from Montreal, and the conTiction I had there 
formed, that it was in vain for me to attempt to get a 
fair investigation into the Hotel Dieu Nunnery, thai J 
seriously thought of publishing a book. 




SINCE the publication of my first edition, I hare 
had different things brought to my memory, 
which I had forgotten while reviewing in it the past 
scenes of my life. Some of these have presented 
themselves to me while meditating alone, by day or by 
night; and others have been brought to mind by con- 
versing with others. I have seen a number of my 
former acquaintances, and in my interviews with them, 
my memory has often been refreshed on one subject or 
another. During a conversation I had in March last, 
with Mr. J«dm Hilliker of New York, who by so kindly 
persisting in taking me from my exposed retreat, saved 
my life as I believe, and introduced me to the Alms- 
house, he recalled to my mind a paper which I held 
in my hand when he found rae in a field. I did not 
mention that paper in my Sequel, because I did not 
think of it. He mentions, in his affidavit, that I 
refused to let him see it, and tore it to pieces, when I 
found he was resolved to remove me. I had made 
up my mind that I was soon to die. Indeed, although 
I have felt unwilling to declare it heretofore, my 
intention had been to die by starvation, in the lonely 
place where I had taken my abode. Sometimes this 
resolution failed me for a time, and I would eat, and 
even send the little boy who visited me, to buy a few 
cakes Sometimes, also, I thought of destroying my 
life by other means; but still thinking it would havs 
%oroe merit in the sight of God to disclose the worst tf 


&e crimes I had witnessed in the Nunnery, I deter- 
mined to leave behind me a record which might be 
picked up after my death, whenever and however that 
event might come upon me. I therefore one day sent 
Tommy to buy me some paper; and, understanding I 
wanted to write, he brought me an inkstand and pen, 
as I believe from his mother's house. I wrote a brief 
statement of facts upon the paper, and folded it, I 
believe, in the form of a letter, after signing it, as I 
think, with my Christian name only, "Maria." This 
was the paper which Mr. Hilliker endeavoured to ob- 
tain, and which I tore, to prevent it from being seen, 
when I thought death was not so near as I had sup- 

The Sunday before the birth of my child, I again 
wrote, with similar feelings, and in a similar Btyle, and 
hid the paper. But I afterwards took it again and 
burnt it 

While I was in the Asylum, a gentleman who had 
Miss Reed's book, (" Six Months in a Convent,") read 
some passages in my presence, which irritated me so 
much that I spoke to him with passion, and I fear 
almost insulted him. I had never heard of such a 
person or such a book before, but I believed everything 
I heard, because it corresponded with my own experi- 
ence, so far as it went; but I thought, at that moment, 
that it was wrong to make known such things to the 
world, as it was calculated to injure the Church: in 
such an unsettled state did my mind continue to be for 
a considerable time. It was perfectly evident to me, 
however, that the institution where she was, must be 
materially different from the Black Nunnery, as it was 
far from being so close,, or governed by such strict 
rules. She also had been in it "too short a time to learn 
all ; and besides, being only a novice, it was impossible 
that she should be fully acquainted with many things 
which are communicated only to nuns. 

TVMJe I was in the Asylum, I had once made up my 


mind to confess to Mr. Conroy, after receiving his in- 
vitations and threatening messages, being strongly 
urged by some of the Catholic women about me. It 
happened, most fortunately for me, that I was befriend- 
ed and advised by an excellent woman, Mrs. Neil, who 
took great pains to instruct and influence me aright. 
When I had decided on obeying the summons of the 
priest, Mrs. Neil came in, and having ascertained my 
intention, urged me to reflect, and impressed it upon 
my mind, that I was responsible to God, and not to 
man, for my conduct, and that his power and authority 
over me were only pretended. I believe I had then 
sometimes more confidence in priests than in God 
Almighty. She assured me that I had rights, and had 
friends there who would protect me. I then deter- 
mined not to go to confession. 

I have generally found it easier to convince Catho- 
lics than Protestants of the truth of my story, if they 
come to me with doubts or even unbelief. Since the 
first appearanee of my book, I have received visits from 
a great number of persons in consequence of what 
they had seen or heard of its contents; and among 
these have been a considerable number of Catholics. 
While I am able to say that I have had the satisfaction 
of removing all doubts from the minds of some Pro- 
testants whom I have seen, I must confess that in 
general I have received the greatest satisfaction from 
interviews with intelligent Catholics. The reason of 
this is. that I know better how to treat the latter in 
argument. Having been one myself, I know where 
their difficulties lie, how to appeal to their own minds, 
and how to lead them to correct conclusions. Perhaps 
I can best convey my meaning to my readers, by giving 
a brief account of some of the interviews alluded to. 

There is an interesting little girl whom I have re- 
peatedly conversed witlu (the daughter of an ignorant 
Catholic woman), who had enjoyed some of the advan- 
tnees f instruction in the scriptures, and submit* with 


extreme reluctance to the ceremonies which her mother 
requires her to perform, in compliance with the re- 
quisitions of her priest. She believes my book, and 
6he has reason for it. She has acknowledged to me, 
though with shame and reluctance, that, when com- 
pelled by her mother to confess to Father , in 

his private room, he has sat with his arms around 
her, and often kissed her, refusing money for the usual 
fee, on the plea that he never requires pay for con- 
fessing pretty girls. He told her the Virgin Mary 
would leave her if she told of it His questions are 
much the same as I have lieard. All this I can believe, 
and do believe. I need not say that I tremble for her 

During the first week in March, 1836, I received a 
visit at my lodgings in New York, from a young 
woman, of a Protestant family in this city, who had 
received a Eoman Catholic education. She called, as 
I understood, at the urgent request of her mother, who 
was exceedingly distressed at her daughter's intention 
to enter a Canadian nunnery. 

Part of our interview was in private; for she re- 
quested me to retire with her a little time, where we 
might be alone; and I found her intention was, by 
certain queries, to satisfy herself whether I had ever 
been a Roman Catholic. She inquired if I could tell 
any of the questions commonly asked of women in 
the confession box; and on my answering in the 
affirmative, she desired me to repeat some, which I did. 
This satisfied her on that point; and I soon became 
eo far acquainted with the state of her mind, as to per- 
ceive that she wa* prepared to avoid the influence of 
every argument that I could use against the system to 
which she had become attached. 

She confessed to me, that she had given five hun- 
dred dollars to the Cathedral, and a considerable sum 
to St. Joheph's Church, and that she had decided on 
entering a nunnery in Canada. I inquired why she 


did not enter one in the United States. To this she 
replied, that she had only one objection ; her Confessor, 
Father Pies, having told her that he would by no means 
recommend the latter, and greatly preferred the for- 
mer, because the priests had enBre control over the 
Canadian nunneries, which they had not of those in the 
States. This, and some other parts of our conversation 
took place in the presence of other persons ; and on hear- 
ing this declaration of the priest, the motive of which 
was to us so palpable, a lady present laughed outright. 

While we were alone, on her expressing a doubt of 
the crimes I have charged upon the priests, I said, 
but you admit that they have said and done such 
things (which I do not like to repeat). She signified 
assent. Then, said I, how can you pretend that any 
thing is too bad for them to do? I also said, you 
admit that they have asked you in the Confession 
box, whether you ever wished to commit beastiality. 
She replied, "Yes; but if we have not evil thoughts, 
there is no harm." " You admit that they have treated 
you with great familiarity at confession?" She replied, 
that she confessed to her priest while he sat in a chair, 
and that he had; "but," said she, "you know a priest 
is a holy man, and cannot sin." And when I pressed 
her with another question, she confessed that her priest 
had told her she could not be sanctified without having 
performed an act commonly called criminal, and re- 
plied in a similar manner. 

She was ashamed or afraid to assert her full faith in 
some of the doctrines she had been taught, when I 
loudly and emphatically demanded of her whether she 
did indeed credit them. This was the case with her in 
regard to the pardon of sins by priests, the existence of 
purgatory, or a middle place, &c. She spoke of these 
and other subjects as if she believed in them : but when 
I said, " Do you believe it really and truly ? — you do V* 
she invairablv faltered and denied it. 

" She spoke of my " Disclosures " as untrue ; and I 


got it out of her that she had conversed with her 
priest about me at Confession, who assured her that 
I was not myself, not Maria Monk, but an evil spirit, 
in short, the devil in the form of a woman. After 
considerable conversation, she admitted that my book 
was undoubtedly true; but still she refused to do, as I 
told her she ought after saying what she had, come out 
and be a Protestant. 

She informed me that her confessor had a great 
desire to see me, and inquired if I would consent to to. 
interview. I replied, that I would readily agree to see 
him in the presence of Dr. Brownlee, but not alone; 
and she went away without leaving me any reason to 
hope that she had been released from the power of 
superstition, or had any intention of gratifying her 
mother, who was deeply distressed at the prospect ol 
bfb daughter's ruin. 




TTTHILE I was a novice, there was a young lady 
' VY of our number from the Tannery, named 
Angelique Duranceau, with whom I was somewhat 
acquainted, and of whom I had a favourable opinion. 
She was about eighteen, and at the time of her entrance 
had every appearance of good health. After she had 
been there a considerable time, it might be about seven 
months, (as I know she was not near the period when 
she could make her general confession, that is, at the 
end of the first year,) I saw her under circumstances 
which mnde a strong impression on my mind. 

I had received a summons from the Superior to 
attend in the Novices' sick-room, with several other 
novices. When I entered, I found Fathers Savage and 
Bonin reading a paper, and Miss Duranceau on a bed, 
with a look so peculiar as quite to shock me. Her 
complexion was dark, and of an unnatural colour, her 
look strange, and she occasionally started and con- 
ducted very singularly indeed, though she never spoke. 
Her whole appearance was such as to make me think 
she had lost her reason, and almost terrified me. The 
Superior informed us that she wanted us as witnesses; 
and the priests then coming forward, presented the 
paper to Miss Duranceau, and asked her if she was 
willing to give all her property to the church. She 
replied with a feeble motion of the head and body, and 
then, having a pen put into her hands, wrote her name 
fo If without reading it, and relapsed into apparc^* 


unconsciousness. We were then requested to add our 
signatures, which being done, we withdrew, as we 
entered, I believe, without the sick novice having had 
any knowledge of our presence, or of her own actions. 

A few hours afterwards I was called to assist in lay- 
ing out her corpse, which was the first intimation I had 
of her being dead. The Superior, myself, and one or 
two other novices, had the whole of this melancholy 
task to perform, being the only persons admitted into 
the apartment where the body lay. It was swelled very 
much. We placed it in a coffin, and screwed on the 
cover alone. On account of the rapid change taking 
place in the corpse, it was buried about twenty-four 
hours after death. 

Not long after the burial, two brothers of Miss 
Duranceau came to the Convent, and were greatly dis- 
tressed when told that she was dead. Tbey complained 
of not being informed of her sickness; but the Su- 
perior assured them that it was at the urgent request 
of their sister, who was possessed of so much humility, 
that she thought herself unworthy of attracting the 
regard of any one, and not fit to be lamented even by 
her nearest friends. "What was she,? she had said, 
according to the declarations made by the Superior, 
" what was she that she should cause pain to her 

This was not the only occasion on which I was 
present at the laying out of the dead. I assisted in 
three other cases. Two of the subjects died of con- 
sumption, or some similar disease-; one of whom was an 
old country girl, and the other a squaw. The latter 
seemed to fall away from the time when she came into 
the nunnery, until she was reduced almost to a shadow. 
She left to the Convent a large amount of money. 

Several stories were told us at different times, of nuns 
who had gone into a state of sanctity in the Convent. 
One, who had excited much attention and wonder by 
prophesying, was at length found to be in such a con- 


dition, and was immediately released from the duty 
of observing the common rules of the Convent, as the 
Superior considered her authority over her as having 
in a manner ceased. 

It was affirmed that many priests had been taken to 
heaven, body and soul, after death. 

The following story I was told by some of the nuns 
and the Superior while I was a novice, and it made a 
considerable impression upon my mind. — After cate- 
chism one day, a dove appeared in the room while the 
nuns were kneeling and engaged in prayer. It ad- 
dressed one of the nuns and the Superior, not only in 
an audible voice, but in a string of French rhymes, 
which were repeated to me so often that I learnt them 
almost all by heart, and retain several to this day. 
"Un grand honneur je vous confere, 
"Aussi a vous, la Superieure." 

These were the first two lines. In the sequel tho 
dove informed the audience that in eight days the 
spirit of the nun should be raised to heaven, to join its 
own, and that of other souls in that blessed place; and 
Bpoke of the honour thus to be conferred upon the nun, 
and on the Superior too, who had had the training of 
one to such a grade of holiness. 

When the day thus designated arrived, a number of 
priests assembled, with the Superior, to witness her 
expected translation; and while they were all standing 
around her, she disappeared, her body and soul being 
taken off together to heaven. The windows had been 
previously fastened, yet these offered no obstacle, and 
she was seen rising upward like a column moving 
through the air. The sweetest music, as I was assured, 
accompanied her exit, and continued to sound the re- 
mainder of the day, with such charming and irresist- 
ible effect, that the usual occupations of the nuns were 
interrupted, and all joined in and sang in concert. 



THERE was a young girl, named Ann, who was 
very stout and rather homely, but not of pleasing 
manners, though of a good disposition, seventeen or 
eighteen years of age, to whom I took a liking. She 
was a novice with me, and the time of which I am to 
speak, was not long after I returned from St. Denis. 
The Superior also displayed a partiality for her, and I 
found she was much in favour of having her received as 
a nun, if it could be accomplished. She was very 
handy at different kinds of work; and, what I believe 
chiefly induced me to regard her with kindness, she was 
a fatherless and motherless child. She had a beau in 
town, who one day called to see her at the nunnery, 
when she was going to confession. 

I was with the Superior at the time, who, on being 
informed that the young man was there, and of his 
errand, requested me to go into the parlour with her, 
to meet him. He put into the Superior's hands a parcel 
and three letters, requesting her to give them to Ann. 
She took them, with an expression of assent, and he 
withdrew. Just as he had gone, Ann came hurrying 
into the parlour, &aying that some one had told her 
that the Superior had sent for her. The Superior 
rebuked h-er sharply, and sent her back, without, how- 
ever, showing her what she had promised to give her. 
Ann said, that she had understood a young man (men- 
tioning her visitor) had called to see her. This the 
Superior denied, telling her never to come till she was 



When Ann had gone, the Superior told me to go with 
her to her room, which I did. She there first made 
me promise never to tell of what she was going to do, 
and then produced the letters and package, and began 
to open them. One of the letters. I remember, was 
folded in a singular manner, and fastened with three 
seals. In the parcel was found a miniature of the young 
man, a pair of ear-rings, a breast pin, and something 
else, what. I have now forgotten. The letters were ad- 
dressed to her by her lover, who advised her by all 
means fco leave the Convent. He informed her that a 
cousin of hers, a tailor, had arrived from Scotland, who 
was in want of a housekeeper; and urged her to live 
with him, and never renounce the Protestant religion in 
which she had been brought up. 

I was surprised that the Superior should do what I 
felt to be very wrong and despicable; but she repre- 
sented it as perfectly justifiable on account of the good 
which she had in view. 

I considered myself as bound to be particularly obe- 
dient to the Superior, in order that I might make my 
conduct correspond with the character given of me to 
her, by Miss Bousquier, who, as I. have mentioned in 
the sequel of my first volume, had shown me an evi- 
dence of her friendship by recommending me to her, 
and becoming, in some sense, responsible for my good 
conduct to induce her to receive me back into the nun- 
nery. This was a strong reason for my complying with 
the Superior's wish in the case of which I am 

Since I have alluded here to the period of my return 
to the convent, I may remark that the Superior took 
some pains to ascertain, by her own inquiries, whether 
there was substantial reason for reliance on the favour- 
able opinion expressed to her of me by Miss Bousquier. 
I recollect particularly her inquiring of me whom I had 
conversed with, while at St. Denis, to persuade them to 
enter the Black Nunnery ; for Miss Bousquier, I undfir- 


stood, had informed her that I had 6hown my attach- 
ment to the Hotel Dieu x by making favourable repre- 
sentations of it while with her engaged in keeping 
school. To the Superior's inquiries I replied, that I 
had urged little Gueroutte to become a nun. She was 
the daughter of Jean Richard, as he was familiarly 
called, to distinguish him from a number of other men 
of nearly the same name; for he had extensive family 
connections in that place. He lived opposite Miss Bou- 
squier, so that I had frequent opportunities to converse 
with his daughter. 

But not to detain my readers longer on this digres- 
fion, I will return to my story and poor Ann, the 
Scotch girl. Having received particular instructions 
from the Superior, I promised to endeavour to get 
into her confidence, for the purpose of influencing her 
to take the veil, and to proceed in accordance with the 
directions given m* The Superior told me by no 
means to make any approaches to her at once, nor 
indeed for some time, lest she should suspect our design, 
but to wait awhile, until she could have no reason to 
think my movements might have grown out of the cir- 
cumstances above mentioned: for Ann appeared to be 
uncommonly penetrating, as the Superior remarked; 
and of course much caution was necessary in dealing 
with her. Some time subsequently, therefore, I cannot 
tell exactly how long, I engaged in conversation with 
her one day, in the course of which she remarked that 
Miss Farns, a confidential frend of hers, who had spent 
a short time in the nunnery some time before, was soon 
coming back. 

This Miss Farns had come in on trial, while I was 
in the Convent, and I had often heard the Superior say 
that she must be separated from Ann, because they 
were so much together, and so often breaking the 
rules. Ann now told me, in confidence, that her 
friend was coming back, not with any real intention of 
staying, but only for the purpose of giving her some 


information favourable to herself, which she had ob- 
tained. This she wished to become fully possessed of 
before she would decide whether to leave the Convent 
or not 

All this I communicated to the Superior, who then 
began to look for Miss Farns' return, with a determina- 
tion to treat her with every appearance of kindness. 
She often, in the meantime, gave me little delicacies, 
with directions to share them with Ann. Miss Farns 
soon presented herself for re-admission, and was ad- 
mitted without any difficulty, not being required even 
to change her dress. This occurred, as nearly as I can 
recollect, about six weeks after the affair of intercept- 
ing Ann's letters, mentioned a few pages back, and 
somewhere about the close of summer, or the beginning 
of autumn. 

Being allowed to do pretty much as they chose, Ann 
and her friend were much together, and generally en- 
gaged in deep conversation: so that, as the Superior 
declared, it was evident they were forming some plan 
for secret operations. I tried several times to get near 
and overhear what they were talking about: but I 
could not learn anything. The next day Miss Farns 
departed, saying she never intended to return; which 
offended the Superior so much, that she said she would 
have the doors shut if she ever came again. 

The same evening Ann requested me to tell the 
Superior that she wished to get her clothes, that she 
might leave the Convent. I went to the Superior's 
room, where I found Father Bonin sitting on the sofa 
talking with her. When they were informed of Ann's 
message, the Superior said she would let the girl go at 
once back to the world, and be given up to the devil. 
Bonin argued a good deal against this. The Superior 
replied, that she had set the old nuns at work, but with- 
out success; they had not been able to influence Ann 
as she desired ; and it was a shame to keep such a crea- 
ture within holy walls, to make the flock" discontented. 


At length she decided on the course to pursue; and 
turning to me, said: take her upstairs, give her her 
clothes, yet argue with her in favour of remaining in 
the Convent, but at the same time tell her that I am 
indifferent about it, and care not whether she goes or 

I accordingly returned to Ann, and telling her that 
she might follow me upstairs and get her clothes, 
led the way, and delivered them to her. In obedience 
to my orders, I lost no time in representing her inten- 
tions to depart from our holy residence as an insinua- 
tion of the devil ; and told her that he was trying hi6 best 
to draw her out into the world, that he might secure 
her for himself. I told her that he had a strong hold 
upon her, and she ought to use the greater exertions to 
resist his temptations; that the Superior thought it 
might be better on the whole if she departed, because her 
influence might be very injurious to others if she re- 
mained; yet I felt a deep interest in her, and could not 
bear to have her perform her intention, because I well 
knew that her throwing off the holy dress that she then 
wore, to take her former one, would be the first step 
towards damnation 

" You need not talk so to me," replied Ann, " you 
have done the same yourself." I told her that if I had, 
I had lived to regret it, and was glad to get back to the 
Convent again. After awhile an old nun came up, 
called me aside, and said that the Superior wished me to 
continue talking to Ann; and. in case I should prevail 
with her to remain, to make her go down and beg pardon 
for the scandal she had caused by her conduct, and ask 
to be taken back again into the flock of the good shep- 
herd, as the Superior was often called. 

Poor Ann at length began to listen to me; and I got 
her to repeat to me all that Miss Farns had said to her 
during her late short visit to the nunnery. The amount 
of it was, that if Ann would come out at dusk, and go to 
a particular house she would find her relations waiting 


for her, who had arrived from Scotland — they were, if I 
mistake not, her brother and cousin. Having prevailed 
upon her to break her engagement to meet them, I soon 
persuaded her to go down stairs as a penitent, and there 
she humbly kneeled, and in the usual manner kissed the 
feet of the Superior, and all the novices, and begged 
and obtained a penance, which was to serve as an atone- 
ment for her offence. This was to fast three mornings, 
ask forgiveness of all her companions on the same days 
and perform acts of contrition. 

That evening the Superior called me to tea in her 
own room, when I told her all that I had learnt from 
the confession of Ann, who I knew was fasting at the 
time. When the Superior understood the plan pro- 
posed by Miss Farns, she spoke of her in very severe 
terms, and then commended me, saying that I ought 
to rejoice at having saved a soul from hell, but ought 
to guard against pride, as I had accomplished what I 
had undertaken only by the help of the Virgin Mary. 

Ann continued to behave as she had promised, and 
we heard nothing more of any attempt by her friends 
to get her out of the Nunnery. Not long after, however, 
she was taken sick, and I ascertained from observation 
and inquiry, that the cause of it was her discontentment, 
as she complained of loneliness. I felt compassion for 
her, and told the Superior that I thought she ought to 
be treated with more leniency. She said she would get 
some of the old nuns to talk with her a little more. 

Ann was received, in due time, as a nun. I was not 
present at the ceremony, but I afterwards met with 
her, and several times had a little conversation with 



THERE was a girl whom I knew from a child, a 
Miss Ross, the recollection of whom gives me 
deep pain: for I know too well that I have been the 
cause of great misfortuses to her. I remember being 
with her at different times in my early days. After 
our family removed to Montreal, anof had our resi- 
dence in the Government House, we often had calli 
from persons of our acquaintance, as many were fond 
of walking in the garden, or green, as we commonly 
called it. 

Such of my readers as have visited that city will 
be likely to remember the place of our residence; for 
the Government House, of which my mother is still 
the keeper, is of very large size (I have sometime* 
heard it spoken of as the most ancient in America). 
It was said that the foundation stones of that and the 
old French church were laid on the same day, as re- 
corded. The gateway is of stone, and it is furnished 
in a manner becoming the residence of the Governor 
of the Province. The garden and green are of great 
extent, and present fine walks and flowers; and as 
the former overlooks the esplanade, to which it is ad- 
joining, it was a favourite resort on Sunday afternoons, 
when the troops are on parade. 

Miss Ross, I recollect, one evening in particular, 
paid me a visit with a Miss Robinson; and we amused 
ourselves together in the green. Her mother lived a 
little out of the city, near the Lachine road. She was 


a Scotch lady, and possessed a large property. When 
Miss Ross grew up, she became attached to a young man 
of my acquaintance, and indeed a relation of my mother ; 
but when it became known, she found her mother very 
much opposed to her wishes. 

While 1 was a novice in the Hotel Dieu, Miss Eoss 
came in as one; and we had frequent interviews to- 
gether, as our acquainteance still continued, and indeed 
we had always been friends. She became informed of 
my design of taking the black veil — I presume I must 
have told her of it myself ; and one day she told me, that 
she had sometimes thought of becoming a nun, but still 
felt but little inclination that way; yet she requested 
me to do her the favour to inform her how I was pleased 
with that mode of life, after I should have been in long 
enough to form an opinion If I thought she would be 
happy as a nun, she desired I would frankly inform her ; 
and if not — as I was acquainted with her disposition — 
that I would warn her against it. We often conversed 
on the subject afterwards: and it was repeated, and 
plainly understood between us, that I was to tell her the 
exact truth, as she would probably be guided by my 
opinion in the course she would adopt. 

I went through many preparatory steps before my ad- 
mission, as I have mentioned in my first volume, took 
the veil, and passed through some of the scenes which 
I have before spoken of, before I ever particularly re* 
verted to the request of Miss Ross, so far as I now can 
remember. One thing, however, I here stop to men- 
tion, which I omitted to Bay in my first volume, and 
tfhich I might forget hereafter, viz.: that soon after 
my admission as a "Received," the Superior gave me 
charge of her room, that of the old nuns, and the ad- 
joining community-room; and thus kept me for about 
three months in a degree more separate from the other 
nuns than I should otherwise have been. This brought 
me more into intercourse with the Superior, and in the 
»me proportion made some other nuns regard me with 


jealousy : for some of them occasionally, in some way or 
other, would express dislike towards me. Perhaps this 
state of things the more disposed me to confide in the 

After I had been a nun for some weeks, I cannot 
tell exactly how long, I recollect that as I lay awake 
one night, I began to think of Miss Ross, and to recall 
the conversations we had held together in the novices' 
apartment. All at once it occurred to me that I might 
probably do a great benefit to myself, an honour to 
the nunnery and to true religion, as well as save her, 
by inducing her to take the black veil, especially as she 
had so much property to add to the funds. At the 
same time the thought presented itself to my mind, 
that by so doing I should gain a very exalted place in 
heaven for myself : for I had already heard a great deal 
said, and had repeatedly read the same in our books, 
that to bring a person into a Convent, was one of the 
highest kinds of merit. I soon made up my mind to 
communicate to the Superior all I knew; for although 
I questioned at once whether it would not be shame- 
ful and sinful to betray the confidence of my friend, 
thi9 was easily got over, by the thought of the vast bene- 
fits to result from it, especially to herself. 

The next day I told one of the old nuns that I wished 
to speak to the Superior; for as this was commonly re- 
quired, and nuns could not go into her room without 
leave, I conformed to custom. I was soon admitted, 
when I told her all Miss Ross had said to me, and 
added, that I wished to get her to take the veil. I 
apologized for my private conversations. She said 
they were perfectly justifiable. I think I never saw 
the Superior express more satisfaction than she did 
on the receipt of this intelligence She appeared over- 
joyed; listened to all I had to say with great attention, 
and highly approved of my proposition* When I in- 
formed her of Miss Ross's attachment to young — — t 
?h* replied that that might explain the state of lK3 

221 MARIA MONl^ 

mind; for the old nuns had for some time spoken of 
her depressed appearance, and she had mentioned at 
confession that something lay very heavy on her mind. 

The Superior appeared from that moment to devote 
her whole attention to the consideration of the subject. 
She seemed for a time almost lost in thought; and 
remarked to me, "We must consider this matter; we 
must consider the best way to bring her into the 
nunnery: for some persons are harder to get out of 
the devil's power than others. After a little time she 
told me I should be sent to read the lecture to the 
novices, and she would tell the old nuns to allow me to 
converse with Miss Eoss, which they would not let me 
do, as I well knew, without her express orders, as it 
was contrary to the rules. She then told me many 
things to say to Miss Eoss, and some of her instructions 
she repeated to me, so that I might not be at a loss 
when I should converse with her, no matter what objec- 
tions she might raise. 

Among other things which I most distinctly recollect, 
she told me to assure her, that as to the happiness of a 
Convent, no person could possibly be more happy than 
nuns; for there we were assured of the favour of God, 
and of heavenly enjoyments after death; that while in 
the world, other young women would draw us off from 
our duty, and occupy our minds with thoughts that 
would do us harm : that we were exposed to no such dan- 
gers. The sinfulness of vain thoughts might appear to us 
very trifling, but it was very different in the sight of 
God; and how could we hope to resist the temptations 
surrounding us in such a manner in the world ? If she 
made any allusion to her attachment to the young man 
before mentioned, the Superior told me to declaim 
against it, as an abomination to think of such a thing in 
the nunnery; that I could not converse with her if she 
spoke of it again, as not a proper person. If she 
appeared to hesitate at my proposition, I was to tell her 
inlemnly that my offer was a direct invitation from 


Jesus Christ to become his spouse, which could not be 
rejected without great guilt. 

The Superior told me that I should be richly 
rewarded if 1 succeeded. She thought I would soon 
be made an old (or confidential) nun: and she would 
give me a most precious relic, with a piece of the heart 
of Mary Magdalen, and intercede for me with the 

After I had listened attentively to all these instruc- 
tions, received from a woman to whom I looked with 
unbounded respect and veneration, I left her, prepared 
to put them in practice to the best of my ability, much 
excited with the hope of accomplishing what I thought 
a truly great and meritorious act, and one that would 
ensure the salvation of my friend. 

The reader may perhaps recall the disclosures I have 
heretofore made, of the crimes I had witnessed, and the 
sufferings I had undergone before this period of my 
convent life, and wonder how I could possibly have 
been so far deluded as really to believe what I was thus 
prepared to say. Such, however, is indeed the truth; 
except that I must allow that my conscience repeatedly 
disturbed me, and seriously, too, with the suggestion 
that I should be guilty of direct deception, if I said 
either that I was happy in the Convent, or that I had 
at all times unshaken faith in any of the declarations I 
was about to make. More than once, too, I was 
shocked at the idea of deceiving my confiding young 
friend. But as I believed what I had been so often 
taught, about the virtue of deception, in certain circum- 
stances, I did my best to smother my scruples. 

The promised arrangements were made by the 
Superior; the old nuns were instructed not to interrupt 
eny conversation they might witness between Miss 
Ross and myself, and I was directed, at the appointed 
hour, to read the lecture. I thus easily found the 
opportunity I sought, and was soon with Miss Ross, 
while the old nuns appeared very busy in another part 


of the room, and unobserving. Though under t 
repeated promise to reveal to her the state of my 
mind, now that I had been long familiar with the 
secrets of the nunnery, I most cautiously guarded my- 
self, and assumed what did not belong to me — the ap- 
pearance of one devotedly fond of the institution. 

I told her that I had now been long enough a " Re- 
ceived " to be able to express an opinion ; and I must 
inform her that we lived a most happy life within the 
institution ; that I would urge 1 her, as a friend, to take 
the veil, and withdraw from that world which was k> 
full of temptations. To this she lent a very serioui 
ear; and I saw that my words produced a solemn and 
saddening effect upon her feelings. She replied that 
6he felt quite undecided what to do. She seemed soli- 
citous to be still farther assured of the happiness I had 
spoken of as enjoyed by the nuns. 

When she touched that subject, I addressed her 
exactly after the manner directed by the Superior, and 
speaking rather harshly, inquired of her, " Do you con- 
demn the life of a nun, then ? " She instantly answered, 
"No;" and she easily admitted all I said about the 
attention paid to the comfort of those in the Convent. 
u But," said she, " my mother is very much opposed to 
my taking the veil; she is a widow, and you know we 
are bound to honour and obey our parents — nature 
teaches us that." The Superior had furnished me, in 
French, with an answer to this objection; and as we 
were accustomed to converse in English, I had only to 
translate her words, which were, 

"Les droits de nos parens ne sont pas devant lea 
droits de notre religion." 

'•'The claims of our parents are not before those of 
our religion." 

" I shan't be a nun !" said she, with determination. I 
talked with her, however, some time, and she began 
again to listen patiently. 

T then added that Christ had commanded us t& 


"forsake fatter and mother " to be Mb disciples, «w* 
that we must have trials and tribulations before rve 
could enter the kingdom of heaven. She told me that 
she felt then less inclined to the world than she had 
when we had last conversed together; but at length she 

alluded to Mr. . " Never mention/' I exclaimed, 

" such abominations ! It is sin, it is defilement to 
speak of such a thing in" so holy a place as a convent." 
This I said very much in the manner and tone which 
the Superior had used in dictating it to me. I then 
puts in the way of your salvation — and see how he tries 
added, " Now this is the only obstacle which the devil 
more to prevent you, the nearer you are getting to it. 
All that you have to do, then, is to resist the more." 

And the repetition of these expressions has brought 
to my mind many others which I often heard, not only 
about that time, but frequently before and afterwards. 
One brings up another; and to speak of objections that 
might be made to any of our nunnery doctrines, or to 
hear a question asked about our way of life, naturally 
calls to my memory the replies which were made to 

" Are you at liberty to buy a farm, and sell it when 
you please? No. — Then how can you giie yourself to 
a young man when you please? " 

"Must we not obey our parents? — Quand les droits 
de la religion sont concerne, les droits de la nature 

["When the rights or claims of religion are con- 
cerned, the rights (or claims) of nature cease."] 

When the question is put to an old nun — "What 
made you become a nun?" the regular, fixed answer 
always is, with a peculiar drawl — " Divine love." But 
such things as these, although they come up very 
strongly to my mind, may perhaps appear to be not 
worth mentioning. 

The conversation I held with poor Miss Ross was 
much longer than I can undertake to give a full account 


*f; but after I had over and over again painted the 
happiness of a nun's life in the brightest manner I waa 
able, and assured her that I had never known blessed- 
ness before I had entered upon it, I told her that I had 
had some inspiration from heaven, such as I had never 
enjoyed before, and that she would have the same. I 
also told her with solemnity, that she had now received, 
through me, an invitation from Jesus Christ, to become 
his bride; and that if she rejected it, it would be a sin 
of deep ingratitude, and he would reject her from the 
kingdom of heaven: that it was her duty to enter the 
Convent as a veiled nun, without regarding the feelings 
of her mother, or any other obstacle; and that she was 
bound to obtain all the property she could, and put it 
into the treasury of the institution. 




IT was very easy for me to see that what I said had 
s great effect on Miss Ross. I found it impossible, 
however, to make her promise me to take the veil. 
She persisted that she must see her mother first. I 
then left her, and went to the Superior's room, where I 
informed her of all that had passed. She appeared 
very much delighted, and treated me with great con- 
descension and kindness. She said, however, that we 
should yet have to do much; for it was plain to her 
that the novice had very strong scruples to overcome — 
and she added, that the devil's influence was very power- 
ful over some persons. We must, therefore, pursue a 
plan which would require great caution and skill on our 
part, but which, she had no doubt, would prove success- 
ful This she communicated to me in a few words. 
That evening the Superior told the nuns that she had 
been warned in a dream that some one was in great 
temptation, and desired them to say a Pater and an Ave 
for her. 

We were to disguise ourselves, and appear to Mis3 
Ross, I as Satan, and she as the Holy Mother. Miss 
Ross must be brought alone, and with solemnity, to 
some place where we could carry through the deception 
without interruption, and with the best effect. The 
whole of her plan she communicated to me; but as we 
had several rehearsals to go through in preparation, 
instead of repeating her instructions, I had better relate 
what was done in conformity with them. 

When we were prepared to go through with our 


parts, in order that we might become familiar with 
them, she gave me an old robe, which she made me 
wrap around me, and the devil's cap, head, and horns, 
which ia kept to scare the nuns, few of whom know of 
it. Thus I was concealed, everything except my eyes, 
and then approached a spot where we imagined the 
novice to be lying. I addressed her in a feigned voice, 
and invited her to become my servant, promising her a 
happy and easy life. In an instant, at a moment when 
we supposed her to be making a sign of the cross, I 
stopped speaking, and hastily withdrew. After a short 
time I returned, and made other propositions to her: 
and then, after flying again from the cross, again came 
back, and promised her, in case she would comply, to 
ensure her marriage with the man she loved. I then 
retired once more ; after which, the Superior approached, 
and with as sweet and winning a voice as she could 
assume, said that she had listened to what had passed, 
and had come to assure her of her protection. 

After I had become familiar with my part in this sad 
farce, and acted it to the satisfaction of the Superior, 
she took measures to have it performed for the last 
time. In this also I had a principal part to perform : 
for 1 was directed to hold another conversation with my 
deceived friend; and, in obedience to instructions, on 
Saturday evening took her into the Examination of 
Conscience room, and informed her that I had been 
inspired by the Virgin Mary to tell her, that if she 
would go into the nuns' private chapel, the Holy 
Mother would speak with her. I informed her, however, 
that it would not be at all surprising if the devil should 
appear to her, and endeavour to prevent her from hold- 
ing so happy an interview; and that if she should be 
tempted, she must cross herself, and Satan would 
instantly leave her, because he could not withstand the 
power of the sign. Then telling her that she must keep 
a strict fast on Sunday evening, I informed her that on 
Monday morning I would be with her again. 


In the meantime, the Superior, with the help of one of 
the old suns, Saint Margarite, and myself, had darkened 
the private chapel as much as we could, by means of 
black curtains, and placed only a single light in it, and 
that a taper, burning by the side of the altar. We also 
took down the cross, and laid it on the floor, with the 
head turned towards the door, and the foot towards the 
altar. When all was prepared, I went to Miss Ross, 
and conducted her into the chapel. I told her to lie 
down upon the cross, with her arms extended, in the 
attitude of the crucified Saviour, which she did; and 
then bound her eyes tight with a bandage, all just as 
the Superior had ordered, telling her she might other- 
wise see a horrid sight. I then retired by the door, just 
outside of which the Superior was standing; and there 
I was covered with the old robe; for although it was so 
dark, the eyes of the poor girl were blinded, and her 
head purposely so place that she could hardly have 
seen us under any circumstances, yet, the Superior said, 
perhaps she might peep a little and see us. If this plan 
failed, she said, she must resort to some other. 

We were both completely disguised; and I had not 
only the dress on, and devil's cap, but a slice cut from 
a potato, and slit in different ways so as to resemble 
great teeth, which was crowded into my mouth. The 
front part of my cap had been turned up inside, and I 
painted my cheeks with some red paint the Superior 
gave me, and she afterwards put on more paint, thinking 
I had not enough. 

After I had left Miss Ross in the chapel about a 
quarter of an hour, the Superior signified that it was 
time to return, and begin my temptation. I, therefore, 
approached her, and standing a little distance from her 
head, repeated some of the words I had been taught, 
and the circumstances are still most distinctly before 
me, so that I remember the words as if I had uttered 
them only yesterday. Perhaps one reason of it is, that 
every few minutes during the whole time, my con- 


science stung me severely, so that I could scarcely go 
on with my part. 

" Are you a fool," said I, " to be lying there in such a 
posture, for that God of yours? Had you not better 
%rve me ? " She raised her hand, without speaking, and 
made the sign of the cross, saying. " Jesu, Maria, Joseph, 
ayez pitie de moi." (Jesus, Mary, Joseph, have pity on 

I waited no longer, but immediately retired softly, as 
if I had vanished. After standing a few minutes beside 
the Superior, just outside of the door, without either of 
us speaking, she touched me, and I approached the poor 
novice again. 

"Would you not like to come out of this place," I 
asked her, " and serve me ? You shall have nothing but 
balls and pleasure of all kinds/' 

Miss Ross made the sign of the cross again, and I 
vanished as quickly and silently as before. In a short 
time I entered again, and told her, "if you will only 
leave this nunnery, I will do anything for you you wish 
— I will get you married to the young man you love so 

Still the poor unsuspecting girl, though doubtless 
terrified, made the sign of the cross again and again; 
and at length I left her saying "Jesu, Maria, Joseph, 
ayez pitie de moi." I then took off my dress, when the 
Superior made me sit down, and signified that I must 
not make the slightest noise. She remarked, — 

" Well, if this plan does not succeed, I will try force." 

She then went in and addressed her, in French, in 
this manner: 

"I am your Holy Mother (which means the Virgin 
Mary) . I have been listening to your faithfulness, and 
will adopt you as one of my children. Are you willing 
to become one of my daughters ? If you are, you must 
join the sisters this week and make your vows before 
another Sabbath passes over your head; for T am 
afraid the devil is making great plans to get you. But 


if yon hare your vows made, I think you will be 

She then asked her if she was willing to give up all 
ahe had to the Holy Church, and told her, that unless 
she would part with all, she could not accept her. She 
then promised her her protection, if she was willing, and 
retired saying, "Peace be with you." 

In the afternoon I was sent to request her to go into 
the Superior's room, as she wished to speak with her. 
On entering it, we found the Superior of the Convent 
and the Superior of the Seminary both there. The 
former addressed her, telling her that she had had a 
vision, in which she was told that the young novice who 
was doing penance in the chapel, was acceptable in the 
sight of God. At this Miss Eoss appeared quite over- 
joyed, but scarcely able to speak. 

The Superior then told her, that she ought to listen 
to any advice I might give her, for she had entire con- 
fidence in me, and she ought to be guided by my coun- 
sel. She requested her to return to the novices' depart- 
ment, retire into a corner, and determine what she would 
do. She then whispered to me and desired me to 
remain with her until the Superior of the Seminary 
went away, which I did. She then told me to go to 
Miss Ross again, and coax her to be received almost 

I went accordingly, and endeavoured to get a promise 
from her to that effect, but I was unable. She persisted 
that she must see her mother before she could take the 
veil. I inquired of her the reason. She replied that 
she wished to give to the nunnery all the property her 
mother could spare her. This I communicated to the 
Superior, who told me to say that her mother should be 
sent for the next day. Her mother came, and had an 
interview with her, in which she learnt her daughter's 
intention to become a nun. This was opposed to her 
utmost; but all the arguments and entreaties she used, 
were utterly vain — she could make no impression. Has 


daughter had wished to see her only to tell her that 
rnnh was her resolution, and to request her to deliver 
her that afternoon, all the money she intended ever to 
give her. 

The widow retired — the money was sent — Miss Ross 
took the veil on the Wednesday morning following, and 
brought a large contribution. I was not present at her 
reception; and I do not think it necessary to 6ay any- 
thing further on the subject, which is, and ever must be, 
&\l my life, one of the most painful with which I have 
had any connection. I will only add, that although I 
often saw Saint Mary (as she was called, after her sup- 
posed patroness), I never spoke with her after her re- 
ception. Opportunities, it is true, were not very fre- 
quent; but, when they were offered, she repeatedly 
seemed disposed to speak to me. I saw at length that 
she was becoming a favourite with Jane Eay, which 
pleased me, knowing that she would be of some service 
to her, and befriend her. Many a time she would fix 
her eyes upon me, and it seemed as if they would pieres 
through my soul 



ONE of the nuns was from St. Mark's, and bore th« 
aame of St. Mark. Her father visited the Su- 
perior one day, and requested her to have nuns pray for 
him daily for a short time, leaving with her a consider- 
able sum of money to pay for their intercession. Such 
things were occasionally done by different persons. He 
also sent about forty dollars to his daughter, with a 
desire that they might be distributed among the nuns, 
to purchase whatever they might wish for. The Super- 
ior informed us that it was quite inconsistent with the 
rules of th& nuns to receive such presents, but that, con- 
sidering the devout character of the giver, she would 
not entirely forbid the execution of his request. 

She therefore furnished us with some molasses to 
make into candy, and allowed us an unusual degree of 
liberty during a part of a day. A considerable quantity 
of molasses was made into candy by some of the most 
skilled in the process; though by no means as much as 
forty dollars' worth. The Superior, however, had a 
trick played on her in consequence of the indulgence: 
for some of us attributed it to a desire of pleasing the 
rich contributor, and not to any kindness towards our- 

When the time for evening prayers had almost ar- 
rived, Jane Ray proposed to drop a little warm candy 
in the chairs of the Superior and two old nuns. This 
was soon done; and in a few minutes those seats, as 
well as the others in the community room, were oocn- 


pied, and the prayers going on. At the close the 
Superior attempted to rise, but fell back again into her 
chair; and at the same moment the two old nuns did 
the same. After a few unsuccessful attempts, their 
situation became evident to all the assembly; and there 
was a great embarrassment at once among us all, arising 
from a disposition to speak and to laugh, opposed by 
the endeavour to suppress both. The scene was a 
very ludicrous one, and Jane enjoyed much amusement 
before the Superior and the old nuns could be set at 

Jane Ray would sometimes seem to be overcome and 
lose courage, when detected and exposed for some of 
her tricks, even though not condemned to any severe 
penance. I have seen her cry, and even roar, after 
committing some breach of rules; and then retire to a 
corner, and after composing herself, begin to meditate a 
new trick. This she would commonly carry into effect 
with success ; and then laughing aloud, declare that she 
was satisfied and happy again. 

Sometimes she would submit to penances with per- 
fect indifference, though they made her the constant 
object of observation. To punish her for her habitual 
negligence in dress, she was once ordered to wear an 
old nightcap until it fell to pieces; but still she was 
seen again as usual, with her apron half on and half off, 
and with stockings of different colours. 

She would occasionally slip into the Superior's room, 
steal pass tickets, and get into the hospital with them; 
and this she did so boldly, that she was the occasion 
of the tickets being disused. Sometimes she would 
bring a Roman Catholic newspaper out of the Supe- 
rior's room, and give it to the nuns to read; and 
sometimes repeat to us what she had overheard said in 

Sometimes scenes of great agitation would occur, 
and things would be carried to such a state that one 
and another of the nuns would become desperate, and 


resist with violence. For it is to be remembered that 
unspeakable practices were sometimes resorted to, at the 
will of the priests or bishops, countenanced by the Su- 
perior ; and sometimes, as I have stated in my first vol- 
ume, required on the authority of the Pope. 

Jane Bay sometimes appeared as a loud and violent 
opposer of what were considered the established rules 
of the Convent. She would break out in denuncia- 
tions of the priests, and berate them in a style which 
it would be difficult to imitate, if it were worth while. 
Other nuns would sometimes exclaim, "Are you not 
ashamed to show so little respect for the holy fathers ?' 
" Why are they not ashamed if she would reply, " to 
■how no respect for the holy sisters ? " 

Some of the best opportunities I ever had for con- 
versing with Jane, were at night; for during a con- 
siderable time she had her bed opposite mine, and by 
watching for a moment, when she could do it without 
being seen by the night watch, she would slip over 
to me, and get into my bed. Thus we have often 
spent hours together, and she found such occasions 
very convenient for communicating to me such plans 
as she devised for amusement or revenge. I some- 
times lent an ear to her proposals, quite against my 
will; for I commonly concluded with a solemn con- 
fession of the wickedness, as I supposed it, in which 
6he thus induced, and sometimes almost compelled me 
to engage. Indeed, it often happened that I had 
nothing to do in the morning, as it were, but to beg 
pardon; and when I was asked why I had so much 
of that business to do, I commonly laid it to Jane 
Ray. She, however, appeared to take much pleasure 
in the stolen interviews we thus had; and when we 
were obliged to lie at a distance from each other, she 
told me that it caused her to weep more than she had 
ever done in her life. 

I naturally felt much curiosity to learn something 
of the history of Jane Ray, and repeatedly asked her 


questions intended to lead her to tell me something 
of her family, her former residence, or life. But, 
although so communicative on most other subjects, on 
this she evidently did not like to speak. Eepeatedly 
have I known her to waive my inquiries, and many 
times, also, when I spoke very plainly, she would be- 
come silent, and refuse to speak a word. All this un- 
willingness only served to increase my desire to know 
the truth, but I ever was able to draw from her any- 
thing more than a very brief and general account of 
herself; for never, except on a single occasion, did she 
comply with my wishes so far as even to speak on the 

One night, when she had secretly left her bed and 
entered mine, she happened to be in a very communi- 
cative mood, though she appeared more depressed 
and deeply sunk in melancholy than I had ever known 
her before. She then informed me that she had 
become attached to an officer of the British army in 
Quebec, in whom she confided to her ruin, believing 
that he intended to marry her. She left her parents, 
and after a time proceeded with him to Montreal. 
There he invited her to visit the Hotel Dieu Nun- 
nery, as a curiosity; but to her surprise, she suddenly 
found herself deserted by him, and the doors closed 
upon her. From what she observed or heard, she 
soon learnt that this was done in consequence of an 
arrangement made between the officer and the Supers 
iors of the Seminary and Convent, the first having paid 
a large sum of money to have her shut up from the 

I understood her to say that the officer was an aide- 
de-camp of the former governor of Canada, Sir Pere- 
grine Maitland. The priests, she believed, knew her 
story, but few of the nuns, she thought, had any know- 
ledge of it except myself. 




TWAS kept in great fear of the priests, by pre- 
tences they made to various kinds of power. I 
was once confessing to Father Bedar, who is now dead, 
and told him I had something on my conscience which 
I did not like to communicate. He said to me, " I have 
power to strike you dead this minute, but I will not. 
I will spare you. Go and examine your conscience, 
and see if you cannot come back and tell me what it is 
that you now conceal." 

I was much frightened; for I believed what he said, 
and supposed he could have taken away my life on the 
spot by only wishing it. I therefore immediately went 
to the examination of my conscience with fear and 

I have remarked in my first volume, more than once, 
that we were told it was a duty to submit to the licen- 
tious wishes of the priests. This we were urged to on 
various considerations. We were told, for instance, that 
being consecrated to God, we were not our own, and 
even our persons were not to be regarded as at our dis- 
posal. Out of considerations of gratitude, too, we were 
told, it was our duty to suppress the doubts and mis- 
givings which would sometimes arise in our minds, 
when we allowed our consciences to present the nature 
c*f our life in its own proper light. If there were no 
priests, we were reminded we could never get to heaven ; 
and it would be ungrateful in the extreme, after being 
insured of eternal life by their kind offices, if we shoal vi 
1 —v them any wish whatever. 


In spite, however, of all that was said, our feelfags 
often revolted, and arguments were renewed. Not only 
so, but now and then, as I have before remarked, pen- 
ances of different kinds were often resorted to, to sup- 
press them. 

One of the tales told us by the priests, waB this — 
intended to prove the power they exercise by means of 
sacraments which none but they can administer. I 
recollect that it was recounted to us one day at cate- 
chism, by one of the fathers. 

"I was once travelling." said he, "in a desolate 
region, when I saw something flying like a white dove. 
Believing it to be the Holy Spirit, I followed it, and it 
led me to a house, over the door of which it stopped. 
I went in, and found an old man on his death-bed, who 
had never been baptized, nor ever heard of any religion. 
I baptized him; and he went off straight to heaven." 

One reason why I did not like to approach the celli 
occupied by the imprisoned nuns, was this : the Superior 
had told me that they were possessed by evil spirits, and 
that I must always make the sign of the cross on going 
into the cellar. 

There are seven sins, as we were taught, which priests 
cannot forgive, viz.: that of refusing to pay tithes to 
the church, injuring dumb animals, setting a house on 
fire, hearing a Protestant preach, reading Protestant 
books, and one more which I do not remember. These 
however, can be forgiven by the Bishop or the Grand 

From what I heard and observed at different times, 
I had reason to believe that a serious misunderstanding 
existed between the Bishop and Father Richards. I 
heard it hinted, in some way, that the former would 
probably have had his residence in the nunnery but for 
the latter. But this I state onlv as what I have been 

The term "old nun. ,, T did not particularly explain 
in mv first edition. Tt did not refer entireTv fo r 


None of the nuns, indeed, were old women. For some 
reason or other, none of them appeared to me to be 
above forty years of age and few more than thirty. I 
never knew what made the difference between them 
and the common veiled nuns, like myself. It was easy 
to see that they stood on a different footing from the 
rest of us, but what that footing was I never could 
thoroughly understand. They had a separate sleeping 
room, which I have described, and exercised much 
authority, not merely in overseeing and directing opera- 
tions in the nuns' and novices' departments, but were 
allowed to inflict various punishments without consult- 
ing the Superior, and sometimes did punish with great 

I sometimes imagined that there might be some 
formal introduction to the dignity and authority of an 
Old Nun, and that a higher grade existed, above 
that of the " Haceived.** It has occurred to me as quite 
possible, (from what I knew of the difference between 
novices and veiled nuns,) that " Old Nuns" might have 
taken some peculiar oaths, and submitted to rules of a 
special nature. All this, however, I inferred only from 
their conduct, and the concert and understanding which 
they appeared to have with each other and the Superior. 
No further light could I obtain on the subject; and I 
am still as much in the dark as ever, although the Su- 
perior once gave me much encouragement to hope that 
I should become an * Old Nun." 

Some of that class, as I began to say, were far from 
being old; and indeed a number of them were below 
thirty years of age, according to my judgment As for 
their real names, families, or personal history, I knew as 
little of them as others. We called them, familiarly, 
Ma Mere (my mother) or Ma Tante (my aunt), and 
commonly obeyed them without delay when they laid 
their commands upon us. 

I have no doubt that, whatever was the process by 
which " Old Nuns " are made, the reason of the eieve- 


tion of a "Received" to that dignity, is her superior 
cunning. It was in consequence of my success at 
imposture, that the Superior told me she hoped I might 
become one; and the old nuns whom I best knew, were 
«acug the greatest adepts at duplicity I ever *aw. 




AMONG the practices in the nunnery, i« that of 
shaving the hair of the nuns on their admission 
— This is done to most, but not all ; as the hair of some 
is more easily disposed in a manner thought necessary 
to the proper arrangement of the headband and veil. 
My hair -was shaved on my reception, and frequently 
afterwards. At the time of my escape from the con- 
vent, it was very short; since when it has been grow- 
ing, and it is now about six inches long. We used 
sometimes to shave each other's heads, and I have done 
it for other nuns. 

It is a rule, that no novice shall be received who is 
not in sound health. Miss Louisa Bousquier, of St. 
Denis, owed her escape from the life of a nun to an 
affection of the head, on account of which she was dis- 
charged from her noviciate when within about three 
months of the period when she would have taken the 

Sometimes the priests would come to the Superior to 
borrow money of her, when she would show liberality 
towards some, but others I have heard her blame for 
not paying what they already owed her. In several 
instances I knew difficulties to arise from money 

One day I heard a conversation between the Bishop 
and the Superior of the Seminary about a quantity of 
plate which an old lady, on her decease, had bequeathed 
to the church. The Superior wished to appropriate it 


to the expenses of the Seminary, but the Bishop 
claimed it as his own. He said he wanted a set of 
plate and would have it sent to his house for his own 
use. The Superior replied that he could do that as 
soon as he had paid the price which she could get for it 
at the silversmith's. The Bishop asked her if she knew 
who she was talking to; and things semed likely to 
rise to some height, when I left the room. 

I heard a conversation, soon after my admission as a 
nun, between the Bishop and the Superior of the 
nunnery, in her room. The Bishop was complaining 
that he could not get his proper dues from the priests ; 
for, as I understood, each priest is required to pay two 
English shillings out of every dollar he receives, for his 
support in the Seminary; while the whole of the 
profits of every high mass for the dead, is considered 
the property of the Seminary. The Superior of the 
nunnery replied, that the priests would be better able 
to pay all their debts if they did not gamble so much ; 
and the state of the country at that time was unfavour- 
able, and little money was to be had. The Bishop said 
he must preach a sermon to the people, to make them 
more liberal in their contributions. 

I saw a nun one day whose appearance struck me in 
a singular manner. She was conducting a priest 
through the sewing room, and had a large bunch of 
keys, like an old nun. I could hardly tell what to think 
when I looked on her. It seemed as if I must have 
seen her before, and yet I could not remember when or 
where; and I had an impression that she could not be 
a nun. For some reason or other which I could not 
understand, I felt a great anxiety to know something 
about her, and inquired of Jane Ray, but she could tell 
.me but little or nothing. I then asked leave of the 
Superior to speak with Sainte Thomas, — for that I 
understood was her name. She consented, on condition 
that we should converse in her presence. I accordingly 
addressed her; but, much to my mortification and sur- 


prise, she replied very coldly, and showed at first no 
disposition to interchange more than a salutation with 
me. She soon, however, took an opportunity to write 
something on a bit of paper with a pencil, and to slip it 
into my hand, which I eagerly read as soon as I could 
6afely do 60; and there I found an explanation of her 
conduct She intimated that she was unwilling to con- 
fide in the Superior, but wished to see me alone the 
first opportunity. 

We soon after had a secret interview, for one night 
she stole into my bed, and we lay and talked together. 
She then appeared quite unreserved, and perfectly 
cordial, and repeated that she believed the Superior was 
only a spy over us. We soon found that we had been 
acquaintances in former years, and had been in the 
Congregational Nunnery together, but after her leaving 
it, I had met her twice in the street, and heard of her 
from some one; her family being so wealthy, we had 
no intercourse in society. She was from a place behind 
the mountain, where her father, I believe, was a grocer, 
and a man of wealth. She had an uncle McDonald. 

I learnt from her the circumstances under which she 
entered the nunnery; and they were peculiar. She had 
not passed a r»viciate, but had purchased her admission 
without such preparation, by the paying of a large sum 
of money, as she had peculiar reasons for wishing for it. 

My restless anxiety was thus in a degree relieved, for 
I found that my impressions were right, and that St 
Thomas was not a nun in the common meaning of the 
word; but, on the other hand, I found I had been de- 
ceived in believing that all admitted into the Convent 
had to pass through the same long trial and training to 
which I had been subject 

The state of things in the nunnery cannot be fully 
understood, without a knowledge of the fact, that much 
jealousy always exists between some of the nuns, on 
account of their preferences for particular priests. 
And yet a priest once told me, that there was more 

243 II ARIA mom:. 

wrangling done in the Seminary about nuns, than any- 
thing else. 

Saint Clotilde died while I was there, of a natural 
death; and I heard one of the other nuns say she was 
glad of it, because she had drawn off the affections of a 
priest from her. The priests often bring in little deli- 
cacies into the nunnery for their favourites, such as 
fruit, confectionery, &c, and give them without the 
Superior's knowledge; and sometimes make them 
much more valuable presents. 

There was a nun who entertained a very bitter spirit 
towards me. This was Sainte Jane; and a cross, dis- 
agreeable creature she was as I ever saw. She would 
sometimes get close by me on purpose, while employed 
in ironing, or some other kind of work which required 
us to be up, and in time of silence stand upon my feet, 
in order to make me speak and get a penance. She 
once complained to the Superior, that she saw me look- 
ing from a place in the nunnery which she mentioned, 
and heard the voice of some person speaking with me. 
Although this was utterly false, the Superior tHought I 
might have some intention of escaping, and sentenced 
me to the most severe penance I ever endured — viz. : to 
live on bread and water for three weeks. 

This diet appeared to reduced my strength; and I 
suffered more severely than usual from the kneeling 
posture at prayers, which was always peculiarly distress- 
ing to me, and made me almost desperate, so that I 
would sometimes almost as readily die as live. 

4AKIA MONK. 244 


THE priests who are natives of Canada, are generally 
very clownish in their manners, and often quite 
brutish in their vices. The nuns would sometimes 
laugh at seeing a Canadian priest from some country 
parish, coming in with a large piece of bread in his 
hand, eating it as he walked. A large proportion of the 
priests are foreigners; and a constant intercourse 
appears to be kept up with France, as we often heard 
of such and such a father just arrived from that country. 
These are decidedly the worst class. Most of the 
wickedness of which I have any knowledge, I consider 
as their work. 

If I should repeat one half of the stories of wicked- 
ness I have heard from the mouths of some of the 
priests, I am afraid they would hardly be believed ; and 
yet I feel bound, since I have undertaken to make dis- 
closures, not to omit them altogether. 

It is not uncommon for priests to recount anecdotes 
of what they have seen and done; and several stories 
which I have heard from some of them I will briefly 

A country priest said one day that he knew a priest 
in a parish better off than those of the Seminary, for he 
had seven nuns all to himself. 

A priest said to me one day that he had three daugh- 
ters in Montreal, grown up. Their mother was a mar- 
ried woman. One of the daughters, he added, now oc- 
casionally confessed to him, ignorant, however, of any 


Another said he was once applied to by a man for 
advice, in consequence of suspicions he had of his wife, 
and quieted his suspicions by telling him a falsehood, 
when he knew the husband was not jealous without 
cause, he himself having been her seducer. 

It may, it must offend the ear of the modest to hear 
such exposures as these, even if made in the most brief 
and guarded language that can be used. But I am 
compelled to declare that this is not all. I shall stop 
here, but lest my readers should infer that it is because 
there is nothing more that could be said, I must first 
make the solemn declaration that there are crimes 
committed in the Hotel Dieu Nunnery too abominable 
to mention. 

I remember a variety of stories relating to confes- 
sion, which I have heard told in the nunnery by 
priests; who sometimes become very communicative 
when intoxicated. One of their favourite topics if 
Confession. One of them showed a watch, one day, 
which he said was worth a hundred dollars. He had 
received it at confession, from a fellow who had stolen 
it, telling him that he must see it safely restored to 
the owner, while his intention was to get it into his 
possession to keep, which he did, and boasted of what 
he had done. 

I have known priests to sit and talk about what 
they had done in the Confessional, for three or four 
hours at a time; and I have heard one give another 
instructions how he might proceed, and what he might 
do. One priest, I know, paid another fifty dollars, to 
tell him what was confessed to him by a young woman 
for whom he had a partiality, or what he called love. 
Sometimes one will request another to send a particular 
lady to confess to him, either on account of her beauty 
or her property, for considerable sums are in such case* 
obtained from the rich. 

Tn the country the common practice is. so far as I 
know, to fix the price of confession for the year, at 

MA&IA MONK. 246 

some particular rate: as two bushels of wheat out of 
twelve; or if the person is not a farmer, a sum of 

A priest one day said to another in my hearing, 
You confess such a young lady, mentioning her name. 
She does not like you, I understand, because you kiss 
her. She is rich, and you have more rich persons to 
confess than I think is your share. 

I knew a country priest, on a wager, drink a shoe- 
full of wine. I was once near the priests' parlour (as 
I have called it,) when I heard two of them in an 
altercation, about the speed of two insects; which led 
to a wager, on the question whether that insect would 
move quicker over a hot brick or a cold one. They 
told me to put a brick in the cold, while they heated 
one on the stove; and when both were prepared, they 
actually tried the experiment. This scene caused great 
excitement and loud talking. I have mentioned it to 
give an idea of the manner in which much time passes 
in the nunnery. 

One day when I was employed in the hospital, Aunt 
Susan came in, one of the old nuns, who had been 
absent for several days, and just returned. The cir- 
cumstances which I am about to relate were brought 
to my mind the other day, by reading in Eosamond's 
book about the priests in Cuba taking her into a monas- 
tery in disguise. 

Aunt Susan was something like Aunt Margaret, in 
having something the matter with her feet which made 
her rather lame. I noticed something strange in her 
appearance when she came into the hospital, and found 
that she was unable to apply the cup in cupping a 
patient for whom that remedy had been prescribed, 
although she had been remarkably skilful before, and 
now appeared to try her best' I thought she must 
have taken too much wine, and undertook to perform 
the operation at her request, which pleased her so well 
that she sat down and became very talkative, in a man- 


tier. little consistent with the rules and practice? of the 

She told me that she had just returned from Quebec, 
whither she had gone some days before from our Con- 
vent, on a visit to the Hotel Dieu Nunnery, of that city. 
She had gone in the dress of a priest, in company with 
some father, and had an opportunity to witness the 
arrangements and habits of that institution. She went 
on to make remarks on different subjects which had 
come under her observation, which I was employed in 
operating on the patient. She represented the rules in 
the nunnery which she had visited as less strict, or less 
strictly regarded, than our own; and said there was 
much less order, peace, and quietness, than we enjoy. 
The Superior, she said, had less command over the 
nuns, and they were less orderly, and not so well con- 
tented. She had a cousin there, as she informed me, a 
Miss Durauceau, who was very stubborn, and unman- 
ageable. If she were Superior, she declared she would 
half murder her for her rebellious conduct. 

All that I knew about the story told by Aunt Susan, 
was what she told me. I did not see her in the dress of 
a priest, but I had reason to believe that the nuns often 
left the convent in such a disguise, and that this part of 
her tale was by no means incredible. Indeed, during 
my stay in the Hotel Dieu, I personally knew more 
than one case of the kind. 

There was an old nun, notorious in Montreal, known 
by the name of Sister Turcot, her family name. I was 
one day employed in the hospital, when I saw her enter 
dressed like a priest, in company with one or two fa- 
thers. She spent a few minutes there, during which she 
went up to one of the patient's beds, and performed 
prayers instead of one, and with such address that I 
should never have suspected anything irregular, I 
think, if I had not known her appearance as well as I 
did. It was with the greatest difficulty that I refrained 
from laughing at a sight so ludicrom She was at tha 

MA&IA MONK, 248 

time on her way out of the nunnery, in company with 
ike priests, and after a short delay left the hospital, 
and went, as I supposed, into the street. 

But I had still stronger evidence than this of the 
departure of nuns in open daylight, in the dress of 
priests; for I was repeatedly called in to help them to 
put on their disguise. I have dressed the nun Sainte 
Felix, three or four times; and a hateful creature she 
was in consequence of her jealous disposition. She waa 
always thinking some one else a greater favourite than 
herself, with some priest. 

The place where the change of dress was usually 
made was the Superior's room; and in the closet in 
the adjoining passage, at the end nearest the door, 
were always kept a number of priests' dresses, nearly 
a shelf full ; as well as several black-hooded cloaks, like 
these worn by the Sisters of Charity. 

A priest once told me that he had three nuns to take 
out of the Convent that day, and was troubled to know 
how to do it He had often taken out one at a time, 
and had sometimes thought he might lose them if they 
were disposed to run away. He commonly directed 
them to limp as they passed along the street; — "for," 
said he, "many of the priests do so, and they might 
pass very well for limping priests; and in our dress, 
how can you tell a man from a woman? But," he 
added, " now I have got three ; and if I should under- 
take to lead them all out together, the devils of womea 
might start off three different ways at the first corner 
we come to, and how could I catch them ? * 

The change made in the dress, when a nun disguise* 
herself as a priest, is complete. All the clothes of the 
latter are assumed. They pass through the public 
rooms in going out of the nunnery, and are often ab- 
■eat for several weeks. 

University of California, San Diego 


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• MAY 05 1980 


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